With India blaming China for blocking its NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) membership bid in Seoul, Pakistani Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz has revealed how Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif out-boxed his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s diplomatic efforts to secure the membership of the elite Group.

On Monday, the seasoned Pak diplomat said that Prime Minister Sharif had written to 17 countries against India’s NSG berth. Aziz claimed that Islamabad’s intensive diplomatic lobbying prevented New Delhi from gaining entry into the 48-member Group. “Prime Minister Sharif personally wrote letters to 17 PMs of different countries on the matter, which is on record,” he told the media. Meanwhile, Aziz thanked Beijing for blocking India’s membership bid on the ground that it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Aziz made the revelation days after spokesperson of the Pakistani Foreign Office Nafees Zakriya stressed that Islamabad was seeking backing from other countries to block New Delhi’s bid. However, he refuted claims that Pakistan was lobbying against India.

Soon after Aziz met the press in Islamabad, Indian opposition leaders slammed Prime Minister Modi for his “visionless” foreign policy. They questioned Modi’s decision to make a surprise stopover in Lahore in December 1915 to meet Sharif in a brief bonhomie between the two leaders. The Pakistani premier was also on the guest list of leaders from an eight-member SAARC (regional grouping) invited to attend Modi’s swearing in 2014.

Although Pakistan trumpets its diplomatic lobbying to prevent India from gaining entry into the NSG as a success, the Sharif administration fails to understand the fact that it can’t block India’s bid forever only by selling the idea that a criteria-based non-discriminatory approach is required to admit new members. India and Pakistan are the two non-NPT countries aspiring for the NSG membership. So, it will be easier for Pakistan to become an NSG member, if India gets the membership.

By openly opposing India’s application to join the NSG, Pakistan has shown its hand. For India, it is important not to over-react, but to explore ways to counter the Pakistani and Chinese propaganda mechanism. In response to Aziz’s revelation, the PM said that India, in dealing with the neighbouring country, would have to be alert all the time. He also expressed serious concern over the influence of Pakistani Army in politics and running the nation, stressing: “There are different types of forces operating in Pakistan. But the government only engages with a democratically elected system. Our effort for that engagement is continuing. But, our supreme objective is peace.”

Prime Minister Modi further clarified India’s stand on the NPT, saying that New Delhi would never sign the treaty. In the midst of the ‘Atom for Peace’ programme, when some countries were provided nuclear reactors, many countries, like France, the UK and China, were testing atom bombs. Following the French test in 1961, an Irish resolution for international agreement to refrain from transfer or acquisition of nuclear weapons was unanimously passed by the UN. The negotiations started in 1965 and later, a clause was included that only those countries that had exploded a nuclear device prior to January 1, 1967 would be recognised as nuclear weapons states. This meant China’s inclusion and India’s exclusion. Signing a treaty against nuclear tests without the complete disarmament of other nuclear powers was rejected by India and many other countries.

India is reluctant to sign the NPT and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), as it believes that the treaties, in their current forms, are not fair to the South Asian country. The NPT essentially states that only five winning powers of WWII have the right to have nuclear weapons. So, there is no way for New Delhi to sign a treaty considered as suicide. India’s traditional position has always been either those five, too, denuclearise or everyone has the same rights to have nuclear weapons, explained the premier.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]