ISLAMABAD: Membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is imperative for Pakistan’s recognition as a responsible nuclear state and access to sophisticated nuclear technology. This was stated by Director General Disarmament at Foreign Office Kamran Akhtar while speaking at a round-table discussion organised by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) on ‘India’s NSG Politics’. The discussion was held on the eve of NSG consultative meeting (November 10) and informal plenary session (November 11) being held in Vienna for deliberations on the membership of non-NPT countries. The meetings are unlikely to end the stalemate on the issue of non-NPT states as a group of NSG members are insisting on setting up criteria for admission of non-NPT countries, whereas some others want the NPT requirement to be met. Akhtar was of the opinion that even if Pakistan does not get admitted into the 48 member cartel controlling the international nuclear commerce at this stage it should continue its efforts for inclusion in the group. “If we don’t get admitted in NSG now, we should not give up our pursuit. In the longer run we need recognition and access to technology,” he said and underscored the importance of building a positive narrative about Pakistani nuclear program instead of it being just about weapons and war” he said. He cited examples of Pakistani efforts to cooperate with other countries on peaceful applications of nuclear energy. “This would help Pakistan be seen as a contributor to the achievement of sustainable development goals,” Akhtar said. The calls by some of the NSG members for developing equivalent criteria for non-NPT countries, he believed, suited Pakistan as it was better placed to meet it in terms of coverage of civilian nuclear facilities, safeguards agreements, and openness to consider commitment to non-testing of nuclear weapons. The director general advised that Pakistan should continue signaling, to the proponents of the criteria based approach, its willingness to adhere to the deciding factors they agree. “Only once they are encouraged, they would see some incentive in pursuing this exercise otherwise they would just give up,” he observed. SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said that India’s alone entry into NSG would put back Pakistani efforts for developing its infrastructure and industry by decades. Therefore, he maintained, such an eventuality would have serious consequences for national security and economic and industrial development. He observed that India was one of the worst proliferators, but Pakistan could not capitalize on it. He recalled that India once had scornful disdain for non-proliferation regimes, which has now been conveniently forgotten by the world. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said US support for Indian candidature was motivated by its political and strategic interests. He said despite lack of progress towards consensus, India and its backers pushed for a second meeting of NSG this year on the issue to weaken the opposition to Indian candidature, besides keeping the issue alive. SVI in its recommendations noted that NSG membership was more than a matter of prestige for Pakistan and was vital for its socio-economic and technological development.