ISLAMABAD: As a verbal duel between Pakistan and India heats up in the backdrop of escalation of violence in the disputed region of Kashmir, Islamabad on Tuesday renewed its proposal for a bilateral agreement for a moratorium on testing of nuclear devices.
The bilateral arrangement will send a positive signal to the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which are currently discussing non-proliferation commitments of non-NPT states in relation to the question of membership, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakria said in a statement.
Pakistan and India both seek a membership of the NSG and have already voluntarily declared that they will not conduct more nuclear tests. But Zakria said the unilateral moratoriums declared by the two countries were legally non-binding and could be withdrawn unilaterally.
“A bilateral arrangement will be mutually binding and difficult to withdraw unilaterally,” he added.
The spokesperson said that following the nuclear tests in 1998, Pakistan had offered India simultaneous adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The proposal did not elicit a favourable response from India, he regretted.
“Once again, in the larger interest of peace and stability in the region, as also in the global context, Pakistan has indicated the possibility that the two countries may consider a bilateral arrangement,” said the spokesperson.
Zakaria maintained that Pakistan’s move was reflective of its policy of promoting restraint and responsibility in South Asia and its consistent support for the objectives of the CTBT. “The bilateral non-testing arrangement, if mutually agreed, could become binding immediately without waiting for the entry into force of the CTBT at the international level,” he said.
Moreover, he said both countries could consider working out details of the arrangement and mutually agreed confidence-building measures in relation to it. “It could set the tone for further mutually agreed measures on restraint and avoidance of an arms race in South Asia.” The proposal came at a time when relations between Pakistan and India are at the lowest ebb.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2016.