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Russia signals support for Pakistan’s NSG candidature

To go with Pakistan-military-defence-exports,FOCUS by Nasir JAFFRYA Pakistani soldier (L) keeps watch as a PAC JF-17 Thunder multirole combat aircraft, conceived and initially developed with the help of China, is pictured on static display at the International Defence Exhibition and seminar (IDEAS) in Karachi on December 3, 2014. A revamped version of Pakistan's JF-17 jet fighter took centre stage at a defence exhibition in Karachi this week as the restive nuclear-armed state looks to boost its role as a military exporter on the world stage. AFP PHOTO/Rizwan TABASSUM
ISLAMABAD: A Russian diplomat speaking at a seminar on “Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Strategic Stability” signaled support for Pakistan’s lobbying since last year to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which has 48 member countries.
Pavel Didkovsky, the first secretary of the Russian Embassy in Islamabad, said on Friday that Moscow was not opposed and had no wish to block Pakistan’s application to join the NSG. While acknowledging efforts of Pakistan for regional stability, its declaration last year of a unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapon testing, and backing Russia’s stance on prevention of the arms race in a silent space war, he complimented Pakistan for adhering to international conventions on its national export program.
Didkovsky, speaking at a seminar organized by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), added that a criteria-based approach for inclusion of non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) was possible to the NSG and his country. China, among other countries, is engaged in devising a framework suitable for all participants of the group.
Defense and foreign relations analyst Qamar Cheema said, speaking to Arab News: “It is a huge diplomatic victory for Pakistan to have Russia’s support to be a member of NSG.”
“It’s a very constructive approach,” said Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, hailing Russia’s support. “MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) and NSG are realizing the significance of Pakistan as a nuclear-capable state.”
Jaspal, a professor at Quaid-e-Azam University who participated as a speaker at the SVI seminar, said that the arms race in the region has diminished prospects of arms control. The arms race is sustained by the Western world’s patronage of India, which accepts the country in multilateral export control regimes such as Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and more recently the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, he continued. He said India was amassing weapons due to NSG’s waiver which the south Asian country is vying for.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group was founded in 1974 to prevent nuclear proliferation through stringent checks and balances over the material export, technology and equipment used for nuclear weapons manufacturing.
Pakistan, backed by Turkey and China, applied for NSG’s membership on May 19, 2016, and maintains that non-discriminatory criteria-based approach is needed for all non-NPT countries for inclusion in the group. The move is backed by several nations, including Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Furthermore, Pakistan’s former permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament and United Nations in Geneva, retired Ambassador Zamir Akram, said Pakistan was seeking to maintain strategic stability in South Asia as a state with credible deterrence.
Ambassador Akram, an expert on non-proliferation, also said India’s acquisition of triad delivery systems, regional political issues, uncertainty in Afghanistan, and Indian aggression at the disputed Pakistan-India border and its use of proxy agents to inflict damage on Pakistan, have put stability and deterrence at risk.
Pakistan’s defensive strategy, he said, has had an effective counterterrorism mechanism, developing low-yield weapons, sea-based deterrent, achieving multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle capability, and long-range ballistic missiles.
He emphasized: “But still we are ready for dialogue and more confidence-building measures to stabilize the situation.”
Cheema said: “Pakistan must lobby to be a member of all multilateral export control regimes. Pakistan has strong institutional apparatus for taking care of its sensitive nuclear installations, which the International Atomic Energy Agency has acknowledged many times.”