ISLAMABAD: Pakistan can consider accepting additional non-proliferation obligations, which are demanded by Western countries, only if there is an appropriate quid pro quo, said former senior diplomat Zamir Akram.
Mr Akram, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and Conference on Disarmament, was speaking at a conference on ‘Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology — Pakistan’s Achievements’, which had been organised by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI).
Talking about the discriminatory attitude of the West towards Pakistan on giving it access to civil nuclear cooperation, he said that while India has been enjoying exceptionalism in the shape of Nuclear Supplier Group’s waiver, Pakistan’s quest for the membership of the elite nuclear club is opposed.
“We continue to be asked to demonstrate that we are a responsible and reliable nuclear state,” he said, noting that Pakistan’s case is as strong as that of India and in some cases has even done more than it [India] for getting the membership.
Strategic Vision Institute holds conference on ‘Peaceful uses of nuclear technology — Pakistan’s achievements’
Pakistan in this regard is asked to sign Additional Protocol (AP) to the Safeguards Agreement with IAEA, separate civilian and military nuclear facilities, provide list of nuclear installations, and sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Mr Akram said that Pakistan can consider extending these assurances if there is a quid pro quo — an NSG waiver for civil nuclear cooperation similar to the one given to India and commitment to admit Pakistan in the nuclear trade cartel if Delhi is given an entry.
He, however, said that despite West’s demands the quid pro quo is not on the table and even if Pakistan extends those assurances the same would not be reciprocated.
“We need not compromise on our nuclear programme, whether it is civilian or military, in order to get a certificate that we are a responsible nuclear state,” he maintained.
Mr Akram said that there has been an excessive focus on military part of ‘‘our nuclear programme and it is time that the spotlight be shifted to the civilian part’’.
He observed that besides the discriminatory attitude of the West, paucity of funds was the other major limitation for the growth of civilian programme. He said that the way forward was in developing self-sufficiency and expanding cooperation with China.
Director General Arms Control and Disarmament at the Foreign Office Kamran Akhtar, in his presentation, called for changing the narrative about Pakistan’s nuclear programme from that of deterrence to one for peaceful uses.
Mr Akhtar said that the civilian programme constituted a major part of the nuclear programme and as such needed to be highlighted. Whether it’s in energy, medicine, or agriculture sectors, or for dealing with climate change, the civilian programme, he said, is contributing to the welfare of people and towards the attainment of sustainable development goals.
The senior foreign ministry official, while talking about commerce side of the civilian programme, said that Pakistan should enhance its supply capacity and indigenise and commercialise technology.
Former defence production secretary retired Lt Gen Syed Mohammad Owais, who was the chief guest at the inaugural session, while praising the progress made by the country towards using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, said it was a matter of national pride, which also testified to the country’s “unhindered focus, commitment and tenacity in achieving self-sufficiency”.
He also recalled the challenges Pakistan faced in this journey. He reminded that despite having a strong case for membership of the NSG, certain vested interests on the geo-political scene were blocking it. He said the Foreign Office should continue with its efforts for securing entry into the NSG.
SVI president Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema, in his opening remarks, said Pakistan has been an active player in the global nuclear order promoting non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament.
Dr Cheema observed that Pakistan’s elaborate programme for harnessing peaceful uses of nuclear energy includes power plants, research reactors, agriculture and biotechnology research centers, medical centers, and industrial applications. He said that a strong civil programme was essential for advancing economic development plans.
He also mentioned Pakistan’s strong credentials with respect to IAEA safeguards implementation at its facilities, the presence of a robust regulatory mechanism and a commitment to pursuing and expanding its civilian programme.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019