Admittance in the NSG: India or Pakistan?

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India applied for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG membership) on 12th May, in response to which Pakistan also submitted a formal application to become an NSG member on 18thMay. Since then, India has been lobbying around internationally, gathering sympathies and collaborating with like-minded nations to support membership of India in the NSG. Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj-while in a press conference-has admitted to having spoken to 23 nations to help India acquire its goal of the NSG membership.  Pakistan, on the other hand, has only relied on maintaining a telephonic conversation with Vladimir Makei, Foreign Minister of Belarus and Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan. Pakistan is opposing Indian inclusion in the NSG at national level whereas diplomatic efforts at an international level are lacking

However, Pakistan still can amend its mistakes by acknowledging the diplomatic efforts of China, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Pakistan needs to make substantial diplomatic efforts for securing NSG membership, achievable through paying visits to allied states. Pakistan also needs to side with its all weather friend China, by reducing international pressure and supporting the Chinese stance on NSG globally. Pakistan should initiate diplomatic lobbying at international level with states like Ireland,South Africa and New Zealand, to support Pakistan’s cause.


Pakistan does not oppose India’s membership in the NSG as it follows a criteria-based approach. India cannot make official declaratory statements regarding Pakistan’s membership in the NSG, since India itself is waiting for its membership to be approved.

Experts all around the world are giving their views, which call for higher standards for acquiring NSG membership, which in turn, will strengthen global disarmament and the non-proliferation regime.

Nuclear experts have openly criticized both India and Pakistan’s application for membership in the NS, because, according to them, the two states fail to meet the required criteria. In this regard, India is strongly criticized by experts who reject the diplomatic efforts of USA supporting India’s bid for the NSG membership.

India has an additional privilege as it has been granted exemption in 2008 by the NSG to have full-scope international safeguards in order to be eligible for civilian nuclear trade.

However, India has been unable to meet the possible non-proliferation commitment it pledged it would adhere to. India’s civil nuclear separation is still ambiguous. Additionally, the IAEA additional protocol is quite weak compared to other developed nuclear-armed states.

Nuclear experts are of the view that the NSG would be further discredited by having country-specific exemptions from the NSG guidelines. These exemptions would damage the acute strategic balance and exacerbate the nuclear threats in the South Asian region.

Dr. Huma Baqai, Associate Professor, Director Public Affairs and Communication and former Chairperson, Department of Social Sciences IBA Karachi endorses Pakistan’s membership in the NSG, and rightly so,  as Pakistan’s nuclear command and control is safe and well protected. Even though US-Indo economic cooperation is at its summit, USA also needs Pakistan for fulfilling its interests in South Asia. Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria has said vehemently that Pakistan has opposed the country-specific exemption for NSG membership, and that Pakistan since the beginning has aimed at the policy of a criteria-based approach, treating both India and Pakistan as free and sovereign states in a non-discriminatory way. India alone cannot be considered for NSG membership;the two South Asian candidates are needed to be considered on equal footings.

Indian ministers, on the other hand, are busy convincing the Chinese government to support Indian bid for NSG membership. Indian Foreign Secretary Subramanian Jaishankar has recently visited China unannounced. However, China in response has not only opposed Indians but have also criticized major powers like the US to end their support for India, as such states only wish to gain access to sensitive and advanced nuclear technology.

Analysing the Chinese narrative, it is quite evident that China will not allow India to gain its entry in the NSG, however, the US State department has stressed Pakistan to present its NSG application in front of the group.

There is also speculation regarding the meeting of Indian PM Modi with Chinese President Xi in the coming Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO )summit, planned to be held in Tashkent in the next few days.

Pakistan-with its continuous efforts-has been trying to maintain balance in South Asia, and to initiate a culture of peaceful nuclear technology in the region. Pakistan urges all the NSG members to adhere to the criteria and merit-based approach for inclusion of new members. It also urges India to strengthen its nuclear safety and security standards. Since decades, Pakistan has proved itself to be a responsible nuclear state, adhering to international nuclear norms of non-proliferation. Pakistan should be treated fairly and on criteria-based approach for the NSG membership. Pakistan has a four-decade long experience of safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants. The Nuclear Suppliers Group was formed to prevent proliferation as a response to India’s first nuclear test, thus the members of the NSG should adhere to the norms of the group.


Sidra Khan
Sidra Khan has completed her Mphil in International Relations and is currently working as a Research Associate.

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