Mar 142017

Pakistan is a member of a very exclusive club — the club of nations that possess nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Membership of the nuclear club carries with it heavy responsibilities, responsibilities that Pakistan has always taken with the utmost seriousness. This was underscored by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday March 14 when he addressed a two-day regional seminar in Islamabad regarding the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540. The UN in the wake of the 9/11 attacks was concerned at the possibility of non-state actors getting hold of either nuclear devices or the means by which to construct a ‘dirty’ bomb. This is a very real risk, and Resolution 1540 seeks to ensure the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Among other things it obliges states to modify their internal legislation and then enforce it. With Pakistan one of only two nuclear states currently fighting a war within its boundaries against powerful non-state actors (the other is India) this has a particular relevance, especially as Pakistan has long sought membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and as such seeks to advance the peaceful use of nuclear technologies in developing countries. This includes the strategic and dual-use of goods and materials. Pakistan is willing — and able — to share expertise and technical help to not only developing countries in the region — but beyond.

There has never been any suggestion that Pakistan is anything other than a responsible and diligent actor on the nuclear stage. We have developed a broad range of legal, regulatory, organisational and enforcement measures and they are in the public domain for the most part — some are not because they represent information that terrorists would like to obtain. There is a commitment to transparency that reinforces perceptions of Pakistan as a nuclear-responsible state. The NSG membership would allow us to develop and further strengthen our role within the nuclear-armed community. Building bridges based on trust within the NSG benefits not only states trading nuclear goods and technologies, but contributes to the wider but less tangible sense of security that goes with responsible stewardship of nuclear assets — a contribution that Pakistan can and should make.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2017.

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