Nuclear Discrimination | Malik Muhammad Ashraf

Why Pakistan does not want to sign NPT

Proliferation of nuclear weapons is rightly a cause of concern and there is a dire need to cleanse the world of the weapons of mass destruction. This is probably the rationale and the motivation behind efforts on the international level to prevent more and more nations joining the nuclear club and coming into force of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). One can hardly contest the narrative as embodied in the treaty and the purpose behind it. But regrettably the dream of a nuclear free world remains as elusive as ever due to the selective application of the provisions of the treaty by US and its Western allies like UK and France, designed to serve their strategic and commercial interests at the global level.

The US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement is a classic example of a violation of NPT by the US, who, to promote its strategic interests in this region, is trying to prop up India as a regional super power to act as a counter-weight to the burgeoning Chinese influence in the region and beyond. To have this agreement become operational, the US made amendments in its Atomic Energy Act of 1954, facilitated IAEA agreement with India in which the later agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and to place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards and also manoeuvered grant of an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for India. This deal introduced a new aspect to the international non-proliferation efforts. The grant and implementation of the waiver from NSG to India which allowed her access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel from other countries, made India the only country outside the umbrella of NPT to carry out nuclear commerce with the rest of the world.

As soon as the US House of Representatives passed the bill to approve the deal on September 28, 2008, France also inked a similar deal with India. UK too jumped on the bandwagon and agreed to have similar arrangement with her. As a follow up to the agreement between the two countries, UK and India have announced deals worth $13.7 billion including civil nuclear pact during Indian Prime Minister’s visit to UK in the second week of November 2015. Australia which possesses 40 percent of the known reserves of uranium in the world has also formalised an agreement with India for selling it to India.

As against it they are not prepared to extend the same treatment to Pakistan and instead are putting pressure on it to curtail and even cap its nuclear programme which it perforce had to initiate in response to the nuclear threat from India. The US particularly has been pressurising Pakistan to sign NPT and withdraw its opposition to FMCT without addressing its legitimate security concerns. The refusal by Pakistan to succumb to these unreasonable demands by US and its allies in the face of their discriminatory approach to the nuclear issue and disregard to its security concerns, is absolutely right and justified. Pakistan believes in non-proliferation of nuclear arsenal and has been supporting the objectives of the NPT even though it has not signed the treaty for justifiable reasons.

India has been feverishly engaged in boosting its nuclear capability as well as build up conventional weapons with the support and encouragement of US and its allies, posing an ever increasing threat to the security of Pakistan The belligerent posture adopted by Modi regime and the Indian paradigm of ‘cold start’ deserve a matching response by Pakistan. No country can compromise its security. These provocative and threatening actions by India, therefore, could not have gone unnoticed by Pakistan. The missile programme of Pakistan designed to produce short missile capable of carrying small nuclear warheads is part of a defensive mechanism designed to discourage India from committing any indiscretion. It is yet another deterrent to forestall the possibility of even a limited war between the two countries.

The US and European nations look at Pakistan’s nuclear programme from the perspective of nuclear terrorism at the global level, rather than it being India-specific, necessitated by legitimate security concerns of Pakistan. Before Nawaz Sharif embarked on US visit it was being speculated that President Obama would ask Sharif to halt missile programme and a deal on civilian nuclear technology might be sealed if Pakistan agrees to cap its nuclear programme. Pakistan however categorically rejected the idea and the Prime Minister before setting his foot on the US soil stated in unequivocal terms that Pakistan would never compromise on its nuclear programme. That probably stopped President Obama from raising the issue during the dialogue in the context of Indian concerns, though they did discuss nuclear security in the global context.

The US and the western powers need to understand Pakistan’s position with regard to its nuclear programme in its proper context. Their discriminatory approach on the nuclear issue would neither help the cause of NPT nor would be able to dissuade Pakistan from pursuing its paradigm of minimum nuclear deterrent. The only and the practicable solution to this sordid issue lies in addressing the causes that prompted Pakistan to take the nuclear option i.e., the resolution of the core issue of Kashmir that has bedevilled relations between the two countries and precipitated enmity between them. The non-resolution of Kashmir issue not only poses a threat to the regional peace and security but is also a potent threat to the global peace.

If the powers that be are really serious and sincere in peace and security in the region, the US and the western countries instead of coercing Pakistan to abandon its nuclear programme must make efforts for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan in conformity with the spirit of the UN resolutions. Once the Kashmir issue is resolved and relations with India are normalised and India signs the NPT, Pakistan surely would have no hesitation in signing the NPT and removing its objections to initiation of dialogue on FMCT. One-sided pressure tactics and arm-twisting are not going to produce desired results. Pakistan is a sovereign and self-respecting country and would never ever take dictation from any one in regards to its security.

Of late some elements within Pakistan have also been advocating revisiting of our nuclear paradigm to enhance our chances of being accepted as a normal nuclear state by the international community and at least allowing the commencement of dialogue on FMCT. I am afraid this is a skewed view of the issue, divorced from the ground realities. It is not about winning a nod of approval from the international community just for the sake of it. It is about our security which remains our topmost concern in the wake of the prevailing security threats.


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