Pak credentials stronger than India for NSG membership: Aziz

Islamabad, Jun 13: Pakistan today claimed that its credentials for NSG membership are "stronger than India" if the elite club agrees on a uniform criteria for non-NPT states to join the group.

Pakistan's Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan has diplomatically engaged numerous countries over the criteria-based approach for the countries that are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

NSG row: 'Pak credentials stronger'

"If the group forms such a uniform criteria, then Pakistan has stronger credentials for NSG membership than India," he told Dawn News. Pakistan has bright chances of getting membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on merit, he claimed.

"Our strategy was to apply after India did, after which we would have immediately followed.

We have had our application in an advance state of readiness for the past three months for this purpose," Aziz said. He claimed that Pakistan has gradually gathered support for the criteria-based approach.

"Last week, I telephoned the foreign ministers of Russia, New Zealand and South Korea, who will in future head the NSG, and our viewpoint was that they should support the criteria- based approach and we have gathered support for it, China was already supporting it," Aziz said.

He expressed hope that due to "Pakistan's efforts and its strong credentials", if India gains entry into the 48-nation club, Pakistan will also not be left behind.

Responding to a question about nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's proliferation network, Aziz said Pakistan has come a long way since then and everyone has witnessed Pakistan safeguarding its nuclear assets.

"If you compare it with India, when our neighbouring country conducted a nuclear test in 1974, it misused the nuclear supplies given to it for peaceful purposes, which led to the formation of NSG.

After that nuclear fissile material was stolen from India, but such an instance has never occurred in Pakistan," Aziz claimed. He said the US has formed a policy to 'build up India' as "their entire attention is towards containing the Islamic world and China".

"We cannot question them but we repeatedly tell them that you (US) are a sovereign country and can maintain any level of relations with any country, but if you increase the strategic and conventional imbalance in South Asia, our problems will increase," the foreign affairs adviser said while referring to the US support for India's inclusion in NSG.

The US has been pushing for India's NSG membership while China has been reportedly backing Pakistan's bid to join the nuclear trading club. India, though not a member, enjoys the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules for its atomic cooperation deal with the US.

The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one nation's vote against a country could scuttle its bid.


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