ISLAMABAD: An official of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) cautioned the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on Wednesday against imposing ‘technological apartheid’ on Pakistan as he urged fair and simultaneous consideration of his country’s application for the membership of the group along with the Indian claim.

“Pakistan wants simultaneous entry into the NSG with other non-NPT states that aspire to participate in the group. This would require a fair and simultaneous consideration of the two membership applications submitted by the non-NPT states,” Zahir Kazmi, a director at the SPD said while speaking at the Centre for International Strategic Studies.

His comments came a day before the NSG, at its meeting in Seoul, begins considering membership applications particularly those of India and Pakistan.

India’s candidature is being pushed by Western countries, but Pakistan’s hope is that the NSG adopts a non-discriminatory approach on the issue of admitting non-NPT states.

Pakistan’s key ally China and a few other states have called for deliberations on the accession of non-NPT countries and adopting a uniform standard on the issue. Based on the sense emerging from the consultative meeting held in Vienna on June 9, it is assumed that consensus on new memberships is unlikely.

Mr Kazmi, while underscoring the socio-economic imperative of Pakistan’s quest for civil nuclear energy technology, said: “Denial would be apartheid and would be seen as a message to the people of Pakistan from some in the international community that they do not want us to progress.”He asked the NSG members to stand with the people of Pakistan in their efforts for sustainable development “rather than imposing a technological and political apartheid”.

Speaking about Pakistan’s credentials for the membership, he said his country met the criteria except for NPT requirement, which India too did not fulfil.

“Pakistan’s application stands on solid grounds of technical experience, capability and well-established commitment to nuclear safety and security. We have a complete programme for harnessing peaceful uses of nuclear energy and have operated secure and safeguarded power plants for 42 years,” Mr Kazmi maintained.

Reminding that the waiver given by the NSG to India affected the strategic stability of South Asia, he worried that an exception for Delhi would further aggravate that balance. He, therefore, advocated that fair and unbiased consideration of the applications would advance the goal of non-proliferation, besides ensuring strategic stability in the region.

Former Permanent Representative at the United Nations in Geneva retired Ambassador Zamir Akram, speaking on the occasion, said the US was using ‘like-mindedness’ and ‘merit-based’ justification to support India’s case.

In his opinion, India did not even meet the politically-motivated merit of the new US approach, if applied honestly, because of its proliferation record for which it remained sanctioned and not fulfilling the obligations it committed while getting the 2008 NSG waiver.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2016

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