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SOURCE: DAWN

A senior foreign ministry official, while criticising the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for differently treating Pakistani and Indian applications for membership, has regretted that the multilateral export control regime is politicised.

According to a media statement issued on Friday by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), which hosted a webinar on “The politics of NSG: The current dimensions”, the director general of the foreign ministry’s Arms Control and Disarmament Division, Kamran Akhtar, said: “NSG very much epitomises the politics of non-proliferation at the global level.”

He accused the NSG of according “precedence to the interests of the nuclear supplier states”.

Indian and Pakistani applications for membership have been held up at the NSG since 2016 because of their non-NPT status and differences between members over the admission criteria.

According to Mr Akhtar, Pakistan is better qualified than India, even going by the formula proposed by Ambassador Rafael Grossi in 2016, as it does not have a mix of safeguarded and unsafeguarded facilities and has been more forthcoming in accepting legally binding commitments.

Speaking about India, he said: “If there was an argument that mainstreaming of India would benefit the non-proliferation regime, the Indian behaviour since joining Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) belies that argument.”

Mr Akhtar said there should not be two different standards for judging the membership applications from India and Pakistan. “Unfortunately, that’s what is happening now,” he added.

A former official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr Tariq Rauf, identified major problems and deficiencies in the export control regimes. He said the regimes did not adapt to the changing international situations and there was a lack of universality and legitimacy in them, besides having inconsistent internal implementation.

A former permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament and the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Zamir Akram, also noted that the working of NSG was driven by geopolitics.

He said Pakistan’s argument had always been that there should be an equitable basis on which membership should be accorded. Pakistan also has other options like cooperation with China in civilian use of nuclear technology under the IAEA directives, he added.

SVI president Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said the applications by India and Pakis­tan, since 2016, had become a very cont­e­n­tious issue within the NSG as well as the outside politics which was related to it.