Russia not opposed to Pakistan’s NSG candidature: envoy



ISLAMABAD: Russia is not opposed to Pakistan’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) candidature and has no intention to block it, Russian envoy Pavel Didkovsky told a conference in Islamabad on Friday.

Speaking at the seminar on ‘Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Strategic Stability’ that had been organised by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Pavel Didkovsky, first secretary at Russian Embassy, underlined the possibility of a criteria-based approach for inclusion of non-NPT states in NSG.

The Russian diplomat lauded steps taken by Pakistan for strengthening its national export control programme that complied with the spirit of international regimes and conventions. He also acknowledged the efforts undertaken by the Pakistan government for stability in the region, including a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and its support for Russian position on prevention of arms race in outer space.

The envoy said that Russia along with China and others were working for a formula that could be acceptable to all.

Speaking on the occasion, Zamir Akram, former permanent representative to Conference on Disarmament and United Nations in Geneva, said Pakistan was seeking to maintain strategic stability in South Asia by having credible deterrence.

He underscored that stability and deterrence were shifting in the region because of India’s acquisition of triad of delivery systems, the region’s political dynamics, uncertain situation in Afghanistan and Indian hostilities at the Line of Control and its sub-conventional war against Pakistan through Afghanistan based proxies and terrorist groups.

Pakistan’s response strategy, he recalled, has been to develop low-yield weapons, sea-based deterrent, and long-range ballistic missile – achieve MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) capabilities –  and an effective counter-terrorism undertaking.

“But still we are ready for dialogue and more confidence-building measures to stabilise the situation,” he emphasised.

Former defence production secretary Lt-Gen Syed Muhammad Owais agreed that regional stability was being disturbed by India. He said India was being encouraged in its weapons buildup by the United States, whose government’s “erratic and incendiary” policies are destabilising the world at large.”

Meanwhile, Ambassador of Iran Mehdi Honoardost met National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua to discuss bilateral relations, economic prospects of CPEC, Gwadar, Chabahar and matters pertaining to regional and Muslim world’s security situation.

According to an official handout, the NSA while welcoming the guest said: “Iran is our brotherly Muslim neighbouring country to which Pakistan has always extended a friendly hand and is keen to strengthen these ties in future. “

The Iranian envoy said, “The Muslim world is passing through challenging times and Tehran believes that Pakistan can play a very constructive and balanced role in the given scenario.”

While stressing the need for consolidating regional cooperation, he said that cooperation is the only way to achieve sustainable peace in the region, particularly in the Muslim World.

Honoardost regarded the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a game-changer endeavour for the region, saying that Iran is keen to be a part of it.

Discussing the importance of Chabahar and Gwadar ports, he reiterated that Tehran would never let its resources used against Islamabad and that both the ports would compliment each other in a cooperative framework.

Both sides agreed that Pakistan and Iran share a common future.

“The most valuable part of Pak-Iran relations is the mutual feeling of brotherhood among the people of both the countries,” the ambassador added.

A broader understanding of each others stance regarding key regional developments can consolidate Pak-Iran relations and can pave ways to enhance bilateral engagements further, they agreed.

The Iranian envoy extended an invitation on Regional Security Seminar to NSA scheduled to be held early next year in Iran which the NSA thankfully accepted.