Volatility happens to be the defining feature of the South Asian region due to the arch-rivals- India and Pakistan. The recent strategic developments and NSG’s power play has stirred a continuous debate in the International politics. The reason mainly being India’s entry into the club, highlighting the political dimension to it which seems quite cynical as this multinational body was created in response to India’s peaceful nuclear tests named, ‘Smiling Buddha’ in the year 1974 whose sole purpose was to attain the objective of nuclear non-proliferation.
It is an established condition that the membership into the NSG only takes place if the party has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and decisions about the change in the guidelines are made through consensus only. However, this precondition was evaded when a waiver was provided to India by the United States back in 2008. Since then, certain analysts have argued that provision of such partisanship has led India to proliferate vertically, undermining the group’s credibility in the long run.
Looking at the outcomes of the last two plenary meetings, the inclusion of both India and Pakistan into the group has not drawn any conclusion yet. Several key parties objected the inclusion of non-NPT states, thereby raising questions regarding their admissibility. Other states have called for a criterion based approach whereas, China emphasizes towards the adoption of non-discriminatory approach for the inclusion of non-NPT countries. Nonetheless, India’s optimistic stance regarding the latest meeting which was held in June suffered a setback, as discussions revolved around the technical issues with the primary focus on the implementation of Control Lists. Other issues that were discussed were related to Transparency, licensing and enforcement, outreach activities, export control systems, updating of the guidelines and civil nuclear cooperation with India.
Previously, Rafael Mariano Grossi- the former chairman of the NSG was provided with the task to design a formula for including the non-NPT members into the nuclear cartel. He came up with the nine -point formula, which was supposed to be a neutral design but kept India at an advantageous position and raised questions regarding Pakistan’s credentials. Though the only point where India seems ahead of Pakistan is the signing of the IAEA’s additional protocol to which Pakistan claims that it can accept the other protocol after internal appraisal process and negotiation with IAEA.
Series of protests have been lodged by Pakistan over the biased and discriminatory nature of NSG guidelines. Major Powers play a significant role in defining the International politics, and in the case of NSG, the stance of United States in favoring India is no secret. According to Mark Hibbs, “The US, close allies, and India collaborated toward the goal of admitting India into several multilateral export control regimes and important objective for India after years of being frozen out of the International nuclear trade. The plan called for India to first join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), then the NSG and finally the control arrangements for a conventional and chemical weapon.” This highlights that India is being given a preferential treatment whereas Pakistan is taken as an outlier. Moreover, such a biased approach would not yield any productive outcomes for the non-proliferation regime.
Any inequitable treatment regarding the membership will in return disrupt the South Asian strategic stability which will significantly undermine the nonproliferation agenda of the International community. Undoubtedly, the inclusion of both India and Pakistan simultaneously would strengthen the objectives of this nuclear cartel. Besides, the actions of NSG are consensus based, so once India is made part of the group it will be in the position to block Pakistan’s entry into the nuclear cartel.
A sense of optimism is perceived by both the parties, as their applications were not rejected by the nuclear club. Also, India is pursuing a proactive approach and is steadily trying to convince opposing members of the group. The recent three-nation trip of Narendra Modi to US, Portugal, and Netherlands signifies the amount of effort India is putting in securing NSG’s membership. Hence Pakistan needs to robustly work on its diplomatic front to ensure recognition from the International community. Politics and power are the essentials of the International arena; hence one cannot question the motives of other states as we all bid to win this power marathon.