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
Updated 18 December 2017
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Russia signals support for Pakistan’s NSG candidature

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.”


Families bury victims as Tanzania ferry disaster toll passes 200

Updated 23 September 2018
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Families bury victims as Tanzania ferry disaster toll passes 200

  • Divers were also set to continue their grim search in the waters around the boat
  • With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers, Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya

UKARA, Tanzania: Grieving families were on Sunday preparing to bury victims of Tanzania’s devastating ferry disaster, with more than 200 confirmed dead after the crowded boat capsized in Lake Victoria.
Hopes were fading of finding any more survivors three days after the ferry sank on Thursday, even after rescuers pulled out an engineer who had managed to find refuge in an air pocket in the upturned vessel.
“We are going to start burying bodies not yet identified by relatives,” said John Mongella, governor of Mwanza region, where the MV Nyerere ferry had been coming in to dock on the island of Ukara.
“The (burial) ceremony will be overseen by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, in the presence of clergy members of different denominations,” Mongella said Saturday on TBC 1 public television.
Divers were also set to continue their grim search in the waters around the boat, where late Saturday they were watched by anxious crowds gathered just meters (yards) away on Ukara’s shore.
Mongella said 218 people had been confirmed dead, while 41 escaped the tragedy with their lives — a total figure far above the official capacity of the boat, which was in theory only able to carry 101 passengers.
One survivor was an engineer who shut himself into a “special room” with enough air for him to stay alive until he was found, said local lawmaker Joseph Mkundi.
Transport Minister Isack Kamwelwe said on Saturday that 172 of the victim’s bodies had been identified by relatives.
State television cited witnesses reporting that more than 200 people had boarded the ferry at Bugolora, a town on the larger Ukerewe Island. It was market day, which usually sees the vessel packed with people and goods.
Witnesses told AFP the ferry sank when passengers rushed to one side to disembark as it approached the dock. Others blamed the captain, saying he had made a brusque maneuver.
Dozens of wooden coffins lined the shore on Saturday, waiting to be seen by families as police and volunteers sought to keep hundreds of curious locals at bay.
Aisha William came to collect the body of her husband. “He left on Tuesday around noon, but he never came home. I do not know how I am going to raise my two children,” she said.
Ahmed Caleb, a 27-year-old trader, railed at a tragedy “which could have been prevented. I’ve lost my boss, friends, people I went to school with,” he sighed.
The aging vessel, whose hull and propellers were all that remained visible above water, was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas and cement, when it capsized.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday ordered the arrest of the ferry’s management and declared four days of national mourning.
In a speech broadcast on TBC 1, Magufuli said “it appears clear that the ferry was overloaded,” adding that the government would cover the funeral expenses of the victims.
With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers, oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
It is not uncommon for ferries to capsize in the lake, and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many people in the region cannot swim.