A respected daily newspaper in Pakistan has criticized the Nawaz Sharif government of handling the issue of Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) waiver for India, pointing to "civil-military divide", increasing dysfunction in the Foreign Office, and 'belated' effort to seek the group's membership.
This was being done, Dawn newspaper wrote, even as the Pakistani state itself was "warning of an arms race with India and is increasingly reliant on the relationship with China in the international arena." The implications for Pakistan's national security are "far more dangerous", the daily warned, and lamented: "The NSG race does not portend well for Pakistan."
The voice of English daily is heard with respect across Pakistan and beyond not merely because it was founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, hailed as Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader) and Baba-i-Qaum (Father of the Nation) but also because it is known as a sedate voice in a country known for its extremes with the military, styling itself as the permanent establishment, calls the shots on India, US and nuclear policies to the dismay of civilian leaders.
Writing on June 21, 2016, under the heading, "Pakistan's strategy vis-a-vis NSG", Dawn put the spot light on the flipside of the Pakistani campaign and dubbed it as haphazard efforts.
India's push for the NSG membership with the United States' backing was "not universally popular", as per think tanks of the US, and among some countries, who had been "arm-twisted" into toeing the American line but "few of those reservations will likely translate into any country championing Pakistan's inclusion in the NSG," the daily said rather bluntly.
It draws satisfaction, nevertheless, that the Chinese-led opposition to India's entry has offered "an opportunity to reset the rules of the NSG cartel in a way that keeps the door open to eventual Pakistani inclusion -- or keep both India and Pakistan out."
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This line of reasoning confirms the widespread assumption that China's whole effort is to ensure blocking of India. The "me-too" membership application by Pakistan is meant to ensure that both India and Pakistan are kept out.
"Perhaps the security establishment (Army) here is confident that Chinese assent will be withheld," the edit said in an obvious reference to the fact that NSG works on the basis of consensus.
The newspaper surmises that "Pakistan, which argues that Indian membership without a similar entry pass to Pakistan would exacerbate military nuclear competition between the two countries, appears to be one of the two basic reasons why China has withheld its support thus far for India's membership.
"The other (reason for Chinese action) is the China-India relationship, or rivalry, and how that connects with the US's relationship with the two countries: growing alignment and cooperation with India; intensifying rivalry with China," it said.
Wondering if Pakistan has got its strategy right, Dawn points to "belated attempt by Pakistan to rally some semblance of international support for a criteria-based entry to the NSG rather than the India-specific one the US has pushed and a section of the NSG has been willing to comply with."
The newspaper argued that "China's blocking effort could have been bolstered by separate efforts on Pakistan's part to lobby potentially sympathetic countries in the NSG.
"Yet, those efforts have only been apparent in recent days, after the extraordinary meeting at GHQ attended by the three joint custodians of the Foreign Office.
Furthering its oft-repeated criticism of the government, the Dawn newspaper said: "It is possible to lament the civil-military divide in the country. It is also possible to condemn the increasing dysfunction in the Foreign Office and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's bizarre insistence on not appointing a full-time foreign minister."
It said: "Contrast the Indian and American diplomatic push, however, with the seemingly haphazard efforts of Pakistan."
No surprise, the combined Opposition in the National Assembly (Pakistan's Parliament) are using "foreign policy failures" to mount a scathing attack on the Sharif government. And their latest taunt heard on June 21 was that "We don't even have friends in Washington any more", and that the Americans are "willing to forgo their commitments to us at the drop of a hat".
Rama Rao Malladi is New Delhi based senior journalist and distinguished commentator on South Asian and Central Asian issues. He is a regular contributor to several publications in and outside India. His articles are featured in News Blaze.Rama (more...)