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South Asia

Nuclear Supplier Group deeply divided

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“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.” (Omar Nelson Bradley)

In this century, the increasing multiplication of nuclear weapons due to proliferation in certain billets through diplomatic means will remain as a strategic turbulence in South Asian region. Due to such concerns various checks are considered to avoid any practical use of nuclear weapons and the transformation of nuclear fissile material into weapons of mass destruction.

The haggling Nuclear Supplier group (NSG), first met in London -November 1975, a group of forty-eight nuclear supplier countries that strives to contribute to nonproliferation charter. The nonproliferation norms are tailed by twofold sets of guidelines i.e. freestanding nuclear exports to outside country for peaceful purposes and exports related to transfer of nuclear materials.

South Asia and NSG berths

Today, South Asian region is fronting more threat of nuclear confrontation where such leeway doesn’t exists using the nuclear bogey but the race to achieve heights as a usual nuclear apartheid route will continue. Pakistan and India, twin nations born out of the tatters of British India have been increasing their arsenals since the nuclear explosive carried out by India affirming themselves as a nuclear weapons state and Pakistan following the suit for its survival as an independent nation.

How to view this?

After forty years of expedition, NSG is down the line to compromise India as a member state to export nuclear equipment, material or technology. To embrace India as an NSG member effort were started after President Obama visits India in 2010 issuing a joint statement which stated that:

“the United States intends to support India’s full membership in the four multilateral export control regimes (Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement) in a phased manner, and to consult with regime members to encourage the evolution of regime membership criteria, consistent with maintaining the core principles of these regimes, as the Government of India takes steps towards the full adoption of the regimes’ export control requirements to reflect its prospective membership, with both processes moving forward together.”

Arguably, the world’s most important multilateral export control regime is considering whether to admit India as a member which was uniquely established after India steered its tests in 1974. This shows that realpolitik and the power game is the reason that drives them to transform the existing nuclear cartels upsetting the strategic environment which instigates that morals don’t govern the international relations.

Unable to go toe-to-toe, Pakistan has been struggling to maintain equilibrium and act as a balancer in the tilt of changing nuclear cartels which are governed without principles. Pakistan conducted its nuclear test in 1998 keeping in mind the hostile behavior of its neighbor. Pakistan nuclear has three major objectives i.e. To achieve and maintain credible minimum deterrence, survivability in highly nuclearized environment such as India, Russia and China, and meeting its growing nuclear energy needs.

Interestingly, global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons have been marred with powerful diplomatic relations that one have internationally. The establishment of NSG was to confine specifically the diversion of civilian nuclear material to be used for military purposes keeping in mind the CANDU reactor story. But now the body is set to craft an exemption out of the box disregarding the regime in its true latter and spirit.

Ensuing the guidelines of NSG there exist striking similarities between both India and Pakistan which if criteria based approach followed will ends in making both states to qualify or fail as a member state.

As India is pushing hard for its membership, NSG waiver if not viewed from the right frame will add more colours into the nonproliferation treaty violating Article 1 of NPT which states “not to transfer nuclear weapons and not in any way assist, encourage or induce any non-nuclear weapon State or to acquire nuclear weapons…” Not only will this but it also increase the existing stockpile of Indian fissile material to produce nuclear weapons.

As a proponent of loosening civilian nuclear standard in the region, Pakistan has worked hard to build diverse nuclear capabilities with effective safety and security structure.

UNSC and NSG

The NSG member states should recall United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 1172, approved after the nuclear tests conducted by both neighbours India and Pakistan calls on to refrain from further testing and producing any weapons grade fissile material which neither states have adopted yet.

White house should also endorse 64 point agenda of 2010 NPT Review Conference and recall the UNSC Resolution 1887 that outlines key steps to advance and strengthen the global nonproliferation and disarmament regime including ratification of CTBT and to adopt more thorough inspections under IAEA additional protocol.

Instead of making a gambit and bandwagoning NSG guidelines for unconditional surrender, Obama must follow his landmark Prague speech of 2009 stated:

“In our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons, rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. And all nations must come together to build a stronger, global regime.”

Amusingly, Lisa Curtis in her paper titled as “U.S. Should Press China to Abide by NSG Rules on Pakistani Nuclear Cooperation” asserted that:

“China has agreed to provide Pakistan two new civil nuclear reactors, even though the U.S. and other countries have told the Chinese that the sale would violate its Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) commitments. This action indicates that China is uninterested in working with the U.S. to promote stability in the subcontinent and instead is focused on supporting its historical ally against neighboring India.”

NSG needs equilibrium

This plethora of favoritism will be costly and non-productive in creating stability in the region. If Pakistan is not a signatory to NPT than so does India but what is more concerning is the Indian qualification for NSG cartel outside its defined criteria as a non-NPT member. Not only is this but Indo-US nuclear deal is also the selectivity of international players for a country who obligated and bandwagonned the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

NSG membership will remain deeply divided over accepting India as its member state. The group members are themselves divided to certain quarters. Some of them are equivocal and reluctant which includes Japan, Germany, Canada and Australia.  

Interestingly Chinese spokesperson, Hua Chungying, said in a press conference:

“China has noted Pakistan’s aspirations for NSG membership. Pakistan has taken steps towards its mainstreaming into the global non-proliferation regime. We support Pakistan’s engagement with the NSG, and hope such efforts could be conducive to the authority and effectiveness of the international non-proliferation regime. We wish to strengthen communication and coordination with Pakistan.”

The logic quoted here is that if a non-NPT member who has a blemishing record of nuclear proliferation for converting its peaceful nuclear energy into military purposes is accommodated than why not a country with effective nuclear safety and security. This is also in accordance with Pakistan’s long-standing position that entry to such an important cartel of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime (NPR) must be a criteria based rather than country specific.

India being an aspirant for NSG membership is in search of their geo-strategic interests and trade expansion, mapping India out of the existing rules and constraints of NSG will add more ramifications to region. Also, 2001 Aspen Plenary item 4 of 5 says that: the new aspirant should be a state party to NPT and have a full scope-safeguard with IAEA. This must be followed!

Conclusion

As a reckoning, for strategic stability in South Asian region, NSG has to recognize the potential role for which it was developed in 70’s and must abide by the policies which must be criteria based keeping in mind the current realities between states.

Several factors like ongoing military modernization, asymmetric conventional capabilities, and border disputes and with all this they have to realize that a serious nuclear competition will be hard to neutralize if this favoritism continues for diplomatic interests.

Important questions that needs adherence are: What were the stakes for which this group was developed? What is it that is creating problems in the group to add states that are outside NPT? Keeping in mind the importance of group for future security, how it can create an arrangement so that both states (Pakistan and India) can enjoy the leverages equivocally?

After all if India is indeed accepted to NSG it would be then difficult to control its nuclear and missile programme but would leave it as to be continued….that is strenuously increasing. So, keeping in mind the intense environment of region due to rivalry between India and Pakistan, Pakistan like India must be considered as a potential candidate for NSG to create a stable and static environment.

Pursuing M.Phil degree at the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad Freelance writer and blogger E-mail: Usmanalikhan6[at]gmail.com

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South Asia

Post-UNGA: Kashmir is somewhere between abyss and fear

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Hailed as a hero for calling out New Delhi’s draconian measures in occupied Kashmir, Imran Khan warned the world of a “bloodbath” once India lifts its lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir. He persuaded global leaders to denounce the brutalities and human rights violations unleashed on Kashmiris ever since the disruption of the decades old status quo, which had been granted by the symbolic autonomy of Articles 370 and 35(A) within the Indian constitution. The constitutional coup d état ensures the alienation of Kashmiris in IOK beyond the point of redemption with massive spillover effects across the LOC. Pakistan is home to 4,045,366 self-governed and independent Kashmiris as per the 2017 census, who are desired of more than a political and diplomatic support for their brothers in IOK. India and Pakistan have already fought three wars on the Kashmir issue.

Focusing on the brazen denial of core human values, Imran Khan prognosticated a more radicalized world as the scourge of radicalism finds more fodder in a discriminated society. If climate change is ignored, the clichés of religious affiliation continues and the inherent right of self-determination remains disregarded, violent reaction is inevitable. He said, “we all know that marginalisation leads to radicalization”… “No one did research that before 9-11, the majority of suicide bombers in the world were Tamil Tigers. They were Hindus”, but Hindus rightly escaped the blame since belief and religion has nothing to do with desperation.

Imran Khan talked more like Gandhi than the nation of Gandhi itself. He reminded the world of the reincarnation of the progrom and racial ridden medieval periods when religion and state were inseparable .It has reshaped and now resides more in inter-state relations while negatively stirring regional cooperation and globalization. Already enwrapped in a world of deprivation, the fifth largest population of South Asia is fearfully seen at the brink of a nuclear war with there being very few options left for a seven times smaller nuclear state of Pakistan, which has been already driven to the wall. The speech was well received and touched a chord with many Kashmiris reeling under the unprecedented communications blackout and travel restrictions in place since August 5.

“It felt like there is someone to watch our back. It felt that someone is talking for us, that we are not alone”, was the feeling commonly displayed. Hundreds of affected Kashmiri stakeholders came out of their homes, shouting slogans in support of Imran Khan and calling for the independence of Kashmir despite the movement restrictions and deployment of additional force by India in Srinagar.A fresh charge sheet has also been filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India against the chief of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, (JKLF) Yasin Malik, and other leaders including Asiya Andrabi, and Masarat Alam on October 4, 2019.

Conjuring up his dystopian vision, Prime Minister Modi made no mention of the disputed region of Kashmir in his read-out speech at the UN along the lines of diplomatically bureaucratic explanation. He only ticked the fanciful boxes of development, progress, and world peace, annihilation of terrorism and protection of environment. This speech however, was soon followed by a threat from his own government’s defence minister calling for the liberation of Pakistani Administered Kashmir as the next step in India’s quest for regional dominance.

Moreover, Imran Khan has also expressed his fears in his erstwhile meetings with Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the General Assembly session. Trump has offered mediation, but only if both Pakistan and India agree. A senior US diplomat for South Asia called for a lowering of rhetoric between India and Pakistan, while saying that Washington hoped to see rapid action by India to lift restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir and the release of detainees there. Similarly, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi, in his address to the General Assembly on 27 September stated that,;”The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.”

Nonetheless, an arrogant denial by India to the support of Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir by Turkey and Malaysia is more of an inept understanding of diplomacy and international commitment. India needs to step out of the skeptical comprehension of the role of the UN that was pronounced by Ms. Vidisha Maitra India’s Permanent Mission to the UN. The sway of diplomatic terms espoused with preconceived historical interpretations could be misguiding for political leaders. Modi needs to keep his ears close to the ground to save his political future. It is an extensional battle for Kashmiris. No concertina wire can blur the contradiction in his approach to the issue, “when they are in India they say it is an internal issue and when they are on the international forums, they consider it a bilateral issue,” said one of the residents of Srinagar. Confusion exacerbates the fear, which consequently becomes a forerunner to terrorism. Same goes for the US whose mediator’s role gets paradoxical by Trump’s close alliance with Modi in his perusal of Asia-Pacific policy. Though, Imran Khan is perpetually using his political and diplomatic influence proactively, to mobilize both the international community and his own people, the anti-India feeling, the pro-militancy sensitivity and the general sense of despair — is stronger than before in Kashmir.

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South Asia

Kashmir Issue at the UNGA and the Nuclear Discourse

Haris Bilal Malik

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The Kashmir issue has more significance in view of the nuclearization of South Asia as many security experts around the world consider Kashmir a potential ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan. The revocation of the special constitutional status of Kashmir by the BJP government on August 5, 2019, also referred to as Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 and the subsequent lockdown in Kashmir has since considerably increased political and diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan. India’s recent moves and actions in Kashmir have once again internationalized the Kashmir dispute. This was evident during the UN General Assembly’s 74th Session, where the Kashmir issue remained a crucial agenda item for several countries.

During this year’s session prominent leaders of the world condemned Indian brutalities in Kashmir. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the international community for failing to pay attention to the Kashmir conflict and called for dialogue to end this dispute. Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that Kashmir “has been invaded and occupied” by India despite the UN resolution on the issue. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also discussed the issue and called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute based on the UN Charter and Security Council resolutions. Based on the grave importance of Kashmir as a potential ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the UNGA warned the world community about the dangers of a nuclear war that according to him might break out over Kashmir due to Indian atrocities. The current situation appears to be the most critical time for both the countries and the region as both countries are nuclear-armed.

However, unfortunately, the Indian leaders and media perceived Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning as a nuclear threat and termed it as ‘brinkmanship’. Contrary to this perspective, it is worth mentioning here that the Indian leadership itself is involved in negative nuclear signaling and war hysteria against Pakistan in recent months. For instance, the 2019 Indian General Election campaign of Prime Minister Modi was largely based on negative nuclear signaling comprising of several threats referring to the possible use of nuclear weapons against Pakistan. Furthermore, as an apparent shift from India’s ‘No First Use’ (NFU) policy, on August 16, 2019Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while on a visit to the Pokhran nuclear test site paid tribute to the late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and asserted that India might review its NFU policy. He stated that a change in future circumstances would likely define the status of India’s NFU policy. Since then there is no official denial of this assertion from India which indicates that India might abandon its NFU policy.

Moreover, India’s offensive missile development programs and its growing nuclear arsenal which include; hypersonic missiles, ballistic missile defence systems, enhanced space capabilities for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance and the induction of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile-capable submarines clearly indicate that India’s nuclear weapons modernization is aimed at continuously enhancing its deterrence framework including its second-strike capabilities vis-à-vis Pakistan. This is also evident from India’s military preparations under its more recent doctrines such as the 2017 Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) and the 2018 Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD)which are also based upon more proactive offensive strategies and indirect threats of pre-emptive strikes against Pakistan.

As evident from the above-mentioned developments, it seems likely that India aspires to increasingly project itself as a regional hegemon and a potential superpower. The BJP government under Prime Minister Modi inspired by the Hindutva ideology is taking offensive measures under the notions of ‘a more Muscular or Modern India’ based on strong military preparedness. In such circumstances, Pakistan’s threat perception would likely remain increasingly inclined towards its eastern border. Pakistan due to its economic constraints would also likely face considerable difficulties in competing with India toe to toe with respect to its military modernization plans. Pakistan is already punching well above its weight, and nuclear deterrence would be the only way through which Pakistan can maintain a precise balance of power to preserve its security. This could only be carried out by deterring India with the employment of both minimum credible deterrence and full-spectrum deterrence capabilities. This posture clearly asserts that since Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are for defensive purposes in principle, they are aimed at deterring India from any and all kinds of aggression.

Hence, at the present India’s forceful annexation of occupied Kashmir and the resultant nuclear discourse at the UNGA has further intensified Pakistan-India tensions. Under present circumstances, the situation could easily trigger another politico-military escalation between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Modi has bet his political reputation on his move to annex the region and his political career is on the line. The same way Pakistan’s politico-military establishment is equally unlikely back down from its stance on Kashmir. It would be difficult for both countries to come down from the escalation ladder because politico-military reputations would be at stake at both ends. Consequently, Pakistan might be forced to take action before India’s modernization plans get ahead and might respond even sooner.

The nuclear discourse in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech against the backdrop of the Kashmir crisis at such a high forum like UNGA would likely keep the issue internationalized. The situation demands the UN fulfill its responsibility of ensuring peace and to prevent billions of people from the dangers of a nuclear war. However, Indian blame game, aggressive behavior and offensive nuclear signaling against Pakistan all present a clear warning of nuclear war. It would greatly limit the prospects for international mediation especially by the United Nations whose resolutions on Kashmir clearly provide a right of self-determination to decide Kashmir’s future.  

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South Asia

1.2 trillion rupees on the move: Modi’s greatest piece of purchase yet

Sisir Devkota

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Last week, the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) was taken aback by more than a surprise. Just when it was dealing with the uncomfortable series of events that led to the transfer of surplus 1.2 trillion rupees into the government of India; social media erupted. It quickly realized that losing the battle regarding the transfer would only add fuel to the hoax of closing down nine commercial banks. RBI enjoys considerable amount of autonomy and independence in the largest democracy, and still, it had to kneel down to Modi’s alleged quick fix.

The RBI would have to vouch for the government in times of need, it is primarily what is expected of the institution; but there was a great deal of discomfort in how the government justified it. A committee set up under the ex-governor, Mr Bimal Jalan, cited how central banks would not need so much of surplus to carry out their affairs. Effectively, it was an order, not a request, which became the underlying discomfort behind RBI’s hesitancy in adhering to the views of capital transfer committee. Not that anyone expected the central lender to protest longer, it did however, request Mr Jalan to reconsider the decision at the face of various consequences. To say the least, it was embarrassing for a premier financial institution to be put under the public eye. The social media hoax was another ridicule of the sickly RBI. In the tales of grand conquests, the victorious army steals the wealth from the losing party. Similarly, the BJP led government in India are redefining all forms of state tools in favour of their interests.

Stolen wealth is most often than not used to correct economic blunders. Just like in the tales of grand conquests, the decision to transfer national wealth from the reserve bank is nothing new. It is nevertheless baffling, that the money transfer is looping in the same direction. While the BJP government in India were imposing a comprehensive GST (Goods and Service Tax) policy, they would not have anticipated complaints from large industries over decreased consumer consumption. For a party that is now known to redefine the legitimacy of governance, falling prey to NBFC’s (Non-bank Financial Companies) incompetence or bankruptcy is a visible defeat. Unlike many other soaring economies, there are large group of subsidiary lenders operating in India. On hindsight, economic policies are barely creating tunnels through which the capital is getting recycled in the same loop. Revenues are not generating further revenues. It is merely closing down on its self-inflicted gap.

The Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) almost played with fire. Uncharacteristically, it proposed a framework to work together with the RBI in order to claim outstanding defaults from high value clients. The RBI was never going to agree with a defaming offer as such but the incident did fuel the argument of capital shuffling. It only makes the bluff look more real. A strategic plan to counter all measures that would have blocked the transfer of trillions. As Mr Jalan sheepishly implied how the importance of central bank and what is does is only limited to the public perception, RBI fought a fix in between larger or rather dangerous political agendas. Consolidating requests from SEBI to only fall into the whims of the government shows the lack lustre personality of the central funding institution. For the time being, Narendra Modi has his way, a theft of national treasure-like his opposition colleague Rajiv Gandhi expressed in the media. However, there will also be a far-fetched evaluation of Modi’s actions. A move of 1.2 trillion rupees in the same pot. Not by any means, a cunning cover up.

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