NSG and the Indo-US trap

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS AND COMMENTS - Dr Za­far Iqbal Cheema Email:maimuna.svi@gmail.com

STATE­MENT by In­dia’s Min is­ter for Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, Sushma Swarag, that In­dia will not op­pose Pak­istan ‘en­try into the NSG but would want its ap­pli­ca­tion to be con­sid­ered on merit, is no less than a de­cep­tion if one un­der­stands the use of nu­ances by the Indian for­eign pol­icy lead­er­ship. First of all, the state­ment has been co­erced on In­dia be­cause of China’s prin­ci­pled pub­lic stance at Geneva meet­ing block­ing con­sen­sus on the Indian gate­crash into the NSG.

Once the Chi­nese op­po­si­tion to an ex­clu­sive Indian membership with­out Pak­istan be­came clear at the meet­ing, In­dia en­ticed the United States who is ever ready to play the Indian fid­dle, to be the first to lay the trap through Sec­re­tary Kerry’s state­ment that In­dia would treat Pak­istan’s membership of the NSG on mer­its if it gets into it (off course be­fore Pak­istan). The Indian For­eign Sec­re­tary has gone over Bei­jing to lure the Chi­nese on whose re­turn Sushma Swarag re­played the gam­bit.

It goes with­out saying that In­dia’s ver­sion of ‘mer­its’ pol­icy has been for­mu­lated dif­fer­ently than Chi­naPak­istan ‘cri­te­ria’ based ap­proach, although the ge­neal­ogy of the two words is almost the same. It is es­sen­tial to un­der­stand the in­her­ent nu­ances in­vari­ably em­ployed, al­beit in­ten­tional, by the Indian lead­er­ship to cloak their real in­ten­tions be­hind state­ments made for pub­lic con­sump­tion. The first Indian Prime Min­is­ter, Jawa­har­lal Nehru, who is un­doubt­edly con­sid­ered the ar­chi­tect of the Indian For­eign and Se­cu­rity poli­cies, was very apt in pro­ject­ing nu­ances when­ever and wher­ever he wanted. It is note­wor­thy that through­out his pre­mier­ship, while ex­plain­ing In­dia’s nu­clear pol­icy dur­ing the for­ma­tive phase of its nu­clear pro­gram, Nehru’s was de­lib­er­ately sub­tle on his choice of words and ex­cluded the term ‘mil­i­tary’ from his as­sur­ances on the use of nu­clear tech­nol­ogy for peace­ful pur­poses. He in­vari­ably opted for terms that are more opaque; that In­dia will not use atomic en­ergy for “evil” and “de­struc­tive” pur­poses in the con­text of the de­bate on mil­i­tary ver­sus peace­ful uses of atomic en­ergy.

Nowhere, in his en­tire range of views on the use nu­clear en­ergy, Nehru ever said that In­dia would not use it for ‘mil­i­tary’ pur­poses. Since Nehru was not will­ing to pro­vide con­trac­tu­ally bind­ing obli­ga­tions for peace­ful uses of nu­clear tech­nol­ogy, he in­stead chose to give equiv­o­cal as­sur­ances. In an as­sess­ment on the ‘Atomic En­ergy De­vel­op­ment in In­dia’, the Sci­en­tific Ad­viser to the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment, Dr. H. R. Am­bler, noted in Jan­uary 1960: The un­equiv­o­cal state­ment by the Prime Min­is­ter (Gov­ern­ment of In­dia press­note of 16.12.59) that atomic en­ergy would never be used for “evil pur­poses” means lit­tle, as self-de­fence would not be con­sid­ered “evil.”

The Indo-US en­snare to treat Pak­istan’s ap­pli­ca­tion for the NSG membership is mo­ti­vated by In­dia’s burn­ing de­sire to some­how get into the NSG with­out Pak­istan, by hook or crook even if it means de­lud­ing Pak­istan with false im­pres­sions. The 48 member’s car­tel would for­mally com­mence de­bate on 23-24 June on the membership re­quests from In­dia and Pak­istan.

The forth­com­ing ple­nary meet­ing is an­tic­i­pated to un­der­take a wa­ter­shed de­ci­sion that would im­pact the fu­ture of South Asian strate­gic land­scape. In­dia’s fa­vorite po­si­tion to join the NSG due to its prop­ping as a “pivot” in the U.S. Asia-Pa­cific strat­egy, as­sisted to be­come a ri­val great-power to China seem to be stymied. China is be­ing viewed as the most prob­a­ble con­tender hav­ing the po­ten­tial to chal­lenge the US claim to be­ing a sole su­per power. Hence the pol­icy adopted by the US is to con­tain China’s rise. To pur­sue this ob­jec­tive the link­ages around the world are be­ing cre­ated with the prime aim to en­cir­cle China to pre­vent its emer­gence as a global player.

Hence as per US strate­gic think­ing, In­dia is be­ing seen to have a sub­stan­tial role to play in the con­tain­ment of China and there­fore, be­ing pa­tron­ized as de­serv­ing for the NSG ex­clu­sive. How­ever this ap­proach is a com­plete non-sense in view of In­dia’s track record as demon­strated in 1974 and 1988 nu­clear tests and mock­ing the en­tire non-pro­lif­er­a­tion regime until re­cently. Its la­bel­ing the full scope IAEA safe­guards as ‘chain­ing the new born ba­bies(NNWS) while leav­ing the crim­i­nals free (NWS), its re­jec­tion of the NPT as in­stru­ment for ‘dis­arm­ing the un­armed’ and its ve­to­ing the CTBT in 1996 at CD are part of a long trail of its sar­donic dis­missal of the NPR (Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion regime)

In­dia is fac­ing a very crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion the un­war­ranted prop­ping by the US and its al­lies seem fail­ing to man­age the NSG membership for it. Its ailed pow­ers are gen­er­at­ing tremen­dous pres­sure in fa­vor­ing In­dia’s membership to NSG with China be­ing an ex­cep­tion. China main­tains that “NSG should have dis­cus­sion on the join­ing of the nonNPT coun­tries in a way agreed by all par­ties, so as to make a de­ci­sion based on agree­ment. This po­si­tion is not di­rected against any coun­try and ap­plies to all non-NPT states.”

Pak­istan wants to be granted NSG membership but strictly ad­heres to the non-dis­crim­i­na­tory and un­bi­ased ap­proach in the NSG band to ac­com­mo­date the non-NPT sig­na­to­ries. Pak­istan’s ma­jor con­cern is that In­dia will per­ma­nently block Pak­istan’s en­try in the group by us­ing the con­sen­sus clause if In­dia be­comes the member of NSG. Pak­istan also fears that In­dia would di­vert its civil­ian nu­clear tech­nol­ogy to en­hance its weapons ca­pa­bil­ity.

Re­cently, Indian Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj stated that “we are not op­posed to any coun­try’s en­trance into NSG based on merit, in­clud­ing Pak­istan”. The state­ment ap­peared at a time when both sates are mak­ing po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic ef­forts to cre­ate space for it­self in the NSG. It seems an­other diplo­matic ef­fort by In­dia to de­vi­ate Pak­istan from its stern re­sponse against Indian membership. Pak­istan com­mit­ted a grave mis­take by not op­pos­ing this ini­tia­tive back then where it should have op­posed spe­cial waiver to In­dia. Once again Pak­istan is be­ing ex­pected to ad­just to In­dia’s for­mal membership to the group de­spite the fact that In­dia does not meet any of the cri­te­ria for NSG membership. At the same time this fact is in­ten­tion­ally be­ing ig­nored by the West that ma­te­ri­al­iza­tion of In­dia’s NSG full membership is highly detri­men­tal to Pak­istan’s se­cu­rity fu­ture.

There­fore, Pak­istan should not re­peat the same mis­take and should stand firm on its stance to ei­ther have this membership si­mul­ta­ne­ously granted to Pak­istan also, or oth­er­wise, not be given to In­dia ei­ther. Pak­istan should work more strin­gently to­wards re­defin­ing its poli­cies and mak­ing in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity re­al­ize Pak­istan’s gen­uine se­cu­rity con­cerns. Pak­istan can sur­vive with­out NSG membership but it is nec­es­sary for Pak­istan to be ac­knowl­edged, ac­cepted and treated as a nu­clear weapon state by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. If rules are to be vi­o­lated to en­ter­tain Indian in­ter­est then cer­tainly Pak­istan could seek the same treat­ment. — The writer is the Pres­i­dent/ Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Strate­gic Vi­sion In­sti­tute, a think tank based in Islamabad.

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