18
August

Written By: Maria Khalid

A report on wounded soldiers of Pakistan Army who lost their limbs while fighting War on Terror in FATA. Pakistan Army took special measures and equipped AFIRM for medical care and rehabilitation of these soldiers. Since then thousands of soldiers have been treated and rehabilitated.

On a hot afternoon in June, I set out from Hilal Magazine's office at General Headquarters (GHQ) and drove up to the Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFIRM), located near Military Hospital (MH), Rawalpindi. I had been hearing much about contributions of this institute in helping very critical patients, some of whom had even lost both of their hands and legs, and bringing them back to normal life. Much was running through my mind as I entered the institute.

 

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“In the beginning I couldn’t walk because of my amputated leg. I was fixed with an artificial limb by AFIRM. They made me do different exercises and now I think it’s my own leg, not artificial. There are days when I wake up and I feel my shoulder hurts, or my stumps are sore, but I just keep on pushing forward. Because when we are inducted in the Army, we are ready to take bullets,” shared Havildar Muhammad Jamal, who is admitted at AFIRM for the third time for prosthesis repair since the blast in Orakzai Agency in 2010, that resulted in the loss of his leg. He was given first aid and then rushed to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Kohat where he was advised that amputation was the best course of action. From there, he was sent to AFIRM for further treatment that continues till date. "I never thought I could walk again but AFIRM did it and now I can walk well with my artificial limbs. They have not only healed my wounds but have also given me strength and hope to live again," said emotionally charged Jamal who is a paramedic himself. During his stay at AFIRM, he learnt computers and now he is serving in his unit and works in the medical branch on a computer along with his other paramedic duties. Without post-operative care and physiotherapy, he would have remained bed-ridden for the rest of his life.

Established in 1980 and upgraded from time to time, AFIRM has looked after thousands of patients like Havildar Jamal. There is a chain of rehab departments that were established in quick succession within AFIRM: Artificial Limbs & Appliances Center set up in 2007 (upgraded in 2014); Department of Speech & Psychology set up in 2008; Occupational Therapy in 2009; Vocational Training in 2010; the Pain Clinic in 2011, and Sports Rehab in 2012. During 2005, an earthquake of 7.6 magnitude hit Pakistan and brought much destruction, injuring around 70,000 plus people in addition to almost the same number of deaths. Besides many other weaknesses, a wide gap in rehabilitation services was observed in dealing with the casualties. “Our hospitals weren’t ready to receive such mass casualties and War on Terror was yet another stimulus for the development of rehab spectrum services in Pakistan,” said Major General Tahir Mukhtar Sayed, Commandant of AFIRM. Accordingly improvements and developments were carried out and now complete treatment of such patients is done here at AFIRM. He further added, “The war-wounded patients constitute the bulk of our admitted clientele, around 65-70%. Then there are those with road traffic accidents, spinal injuries since we are the only centre which treats spinal trauma injuries to limbs or amputations. At times we get diabetes amputations, too.”

notleftalone3.jpgThe institute has admission capacity of 100 beds and 90% are occupied most of the time. They have adequate resources and support in terms of finances and infrastructure. AFIRM is transforming lives of amputees by giving them mobility and the strength to endure this trial with dignity. Mushtaq, a war-wounded patient at AFIRM, is a triple amputee but is capable of performing various functions with his right myoelectric hand. “Not only are we acquiring bionic arms to put on patients but we are collaborating with Project Management Organization (PMO) and National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) to do it in a cost effective way as it costs us about 2 million at present. We have also acquired the capacity to do the metallurgy work. In not too distant a future, we will be making it ourselves,” shared the Commandant.

Sometimes there are people who have lost both their legs and an arm and the challenge lie for AFIRM in preparing their muscles and grooming them psychologically, do the cosmetic work and then train them for changed capabilities. It is a challenge to deal with young patients having limb injuries and to bring them back to a stage where they can be retained in service in lines with the new policy.

On March 1, 2015, Havildar Pervez Khan was working with the Searching and Explosive Unit of Pakistan Army in Mir Ali, South Waziristan when a Rocket-Propelled Grenade hit him. In AFIRM, he was sitting before me with his back leaning against the hospital bed, his clothing on the right leg rolled up to reveal a stump below the knee, covered with bandage. “Harrowing pain shot through my body but I didn’t lose my consciousness when the rocket was fired. My fellow soldiers kept sitting with me and tried to comfort me as I was the only one who got injured. When I was flown to the hospital, not certain about my future as initial medical treatment indicated of serious injuries that could lead to amputation. And finally my foot was cut,” he narrated. But he was satisfied with the treatment that he was being provided at AFIRM. Pervez looked more determined with his eyes glowing as he shared further about his routine and life, "Gym is all the more important because when there’s no foot below one leg, the other one has to bear the entire weight. With vocational training we are given hope that we aren’t disabled. They give us guidelines to take care of ourselves; they make modifications at our home with the supporting components such as disable friendly washrooms, kitchen and dining areas. I see where I stand now. I am respected more than before and people greet me with so much love. They come to see me here, they come to my home. If I call one person from my regiment, 10 people would come rushing for help.”

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The institute is attending about 1200 patients per day and the success rate is quite high. “Because of the work load we have, there are teams coming from England, America, Switzerland and Turkey. They are very keen to collaborate with us because of the numbers we are dealing with. This war has created 37000 injured with limbs in Pakistan. Nobody else has that high a figure. British Army has just signed a working agreement with us so that they could send their teams in AFIRM to work with us. Similarly, American Army’s Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre has set up a huge collaborative programme with us,” Maj Gen Tahir shared with us.

Sepoy Muhammad Ibrahim from 3 Baloch Regiment was moving in a convoy in South Waziristan Agency when a blast had blown his left leg off. The damage was catastrophic. With no loss of time, he was flown in a helicopter to CMH, Rawalpindi. When he regained consciousness after an hour, he was told his leg wound was beyond treatment. It was a shock to regain consciousness after an hour and listen the news that the surgeons would cut the leg off above the knee. He was finally brought to AFIRM after the treatment. For around 6 months after the blast, he couldn’t get used to the idea of immobility and his stump. He was then fixed with an artificial leg and sent for home training. He’s at the Rehabilitation Medicine Centre for a month now. His family is supporting him however they could and they now have hope that he would be fit to walk again.

The institute instills hope into these patients that Pakistan Army and the society haven't abandoned them and uses whatever means are needed to support them. Stories of these soldiers’ lives speak of extraordinary courage and a continuous struggle to go on in life, not as a disabled patient but as a tax payer, a normal citizen who is not a burden on the society.

To walk and walk normally is the primal human urge. The management at AFIRM is thinking in terms of solutions, way beyond the problems that are many and immense. AFIRM is in the process of setting up a Gait Analysis Lab which would be the only laboratory of its kind in Pakistan. More so, to facilitate patients, a valet parking lot has also been arranged.

The organization is currently making about 400-450 prosthetic processes and over 10,000 orthotics. “This is also an area we want to develop further,” told Maj Gen Tahir Mukhtar Sayed. Not only treatment, but AFIRM is also doing capacity building to groom doctors (both uniformed and non-uniformed) who can carry out treatment of such patients across the country. Of the 38 rehabilitation specialists in Pakistan, 32 received their training at AFIRM which is an honour.

Naib Subedar Sadiq Hussain from 36 Azad Kashmir Regiment had his limb amputated after he stepped on an anti-personnel mine while he was on a search operation in South Waziristan. He’s at AFIRM since April 22, 2014. He was put through muscle strengthening training before being given an artificial leg. Now he is learning to walk with it. After the swelling is gone and the leg fits in, only then he would be able to walk comfortably. Although an amputee’s pain can be harrowing and difficult to deal with, he seems unfazed by a prosthetic leg attached to his body that helps him walk. “We are Muslims and have been inducted in the army to serve this country and nation, we can’t let our hope die. I am very happy the way my treatment is being done in this institution,” shared Sadiq Hussain. The feeling of pride hanged in the air of a ghazi who had just won a fight – the fight within.

18
August

Written By: Prof. Sharif al Mujahid

It is not usually realized that by merely accompanying Jinnah wherever he went during the 1940s, Fatima Jinnah had psychologically prepared the Muslim women to stand shoulder to shoulder with men during the freedom struggle. Numerous pictures of the period show Miss Fatima Jinnah walking alongside Jinnah, not behind him. The message was loud and clear – the message both the brother and the sister wished to convey to the nation.

Over the decades a good deal has been written on Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah’s (1893-1967) singular contribution to national politics. The focus in most writings on her and about her is almost exclusively on how she stood for and beckoned the people to the pristine principles that had impelled the demand for Pakistan; how she had inspired the strivings and sacrifices in their quest, how she had enabled the beleaguered nation to own them up; how she had provided an unfailing source of inspiration to them during the 1950s and the 1960s; how she had helped, substantially and significantly, to keep the torch of democracy aflame in the most un-fortuitous circumstances; and, thus, how, above all, she, more than anyone else, had sustained the nation’s quest for democracy during president Ayub’s (1907-74) marathon semi-authoritarian rule.

Fatima Jinnah’s contribution in the social development sector, though as singular, substantial and critical, has however lain ignored somewhat. This has largely remained overshadowed by her political role despite the fact that she, along with Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan (1905-90), had made the greatest contribution in the realm of women’s awakening and participation in national affairs, in their emancipation, their regeneration, and their empowerment. Indeed, since her early life Fatima Jinnah had served as a role model for Muslim girls/women in several areas as the various roles she had donned would indicate.

Indeed, if you cast a glance at the various vicissitudes of her life, you will see that from the beginning she had cast herself in the role of a modern Muslim female persona. That role calls for equipping oneself to shoulder the tasks, along with its male counterpart, at various levels – domestic, public, and/or national – and contribute fully and significantly its share in accomplishing them.

Consider, for instance, her early life. In an age when few Muslim girls took to English education, she went in for modern education. In an age, when convent schools and boarding schools for girls were shunned, she enrolled herself in the Bandhara Convent School (1902) and, later in St. Patrick School, Bhandara (1906) from where she did her matriculation. And all the while she stayed on her own in a hostel, much against the family and Khoja traditions. She did her Senior Cambridge in 1913. In an age when few Indian (not to speak of Muslim) women went in for a professional degree or diploma and training, she went in for one. She moved to Calcutta in 1919, and got herself enrolled in Dr. Ahmad Dental College. Interestingly, she decided to stay on her own in a hostel, although her elder sister, Maryam, was living along with her family over there. Not only did she train herself as a dentist; she also, with Quaid’s encouragement, opened a dental clinic on Abdur Rehman Street, a Muslim locality in Bombay, in 1923. Indeed, a rare phenomenon even for cosmopolitan and modernized Bombay. In an age, when social work was not an in-thing, nor a sort of fashion, even with educated and affluent womenfolk in India’s most modern society except for the tiny Parsi community, she exhibited a passion for social work. She worked simultaneously at the nearby Dhobi Talau Municipal Clinic, on a voluntary basis.

 

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Although Fatima Jinnah had lived with her elder sister during this period, her choice of a modern profession and leading a busy professional life indicated that she was determined to live on her own, that she wished to lead a useful life, instead of being a burden on the family or living off the family. Indeed, she was determined to pursue the values she deemed important to give meaning and purpose to one's life. Above all, she wished to contribute for the social uplifting and welfare of the community, rather than being a drain on it.

All this, inter alia, indicated her independence and will power, her capacity for decision-making and for hard and sustained work, and her penchant for social welfare activities and social and economic uplift of the downtrodden and poor womenfolk. This also indicated the progressive streak in her thinking in those days. A streak that required women to take to the professions and make themselves useful to the community and country at large, instead of wasting their talents and frittering away their energies, just sitting at home and engaging themselves in routine domestic chores and idle pursuits. Even in those days she believed that women should take part in nation building activities – a view she propagated repeatedly, later. But life is much more than a mere career, as Hillary Rodham Clinton pointed out years earlier when reigned supreme as the First Lady. When the call from the family comes, the profession inevitably takes a back seat, however committed one is professionally. Thus, when Rutten Bai (b. 1900) died on February 20, 1929, Miss Jinnah sacrificed her career, wound up her clinic, took charge of Quaid-i-Azam’s palatial Malabar Hill mansion, and assigned herself the most critical task of helping her illustrious brother out in terms of his personal needs and comforts, and in providing him with a salubrious atmosphere at home, so that he could give undivided attention to the critical problems Muslim India was confronted with. Additionally, she served as his confidante and advisor: she stood by him all the time, giving him hope and encouragement, and trying to sustain him during the most strenuous period of his life. She remained his constant companion for the next twenty years (1929-48).

Years later, Jinnah, who is seldom known to give public expression to his private feelings, acknowledged unreservedly. “My sister was like a bright ray of light and hope whenever I came home and met her,” Jinnah told the guests at the first official dinner, hosted by Ghulam Husain Hidayatullah (1879-1948), Premier and Governor designate of Sindh, at the Karachi Club on August 9, 1947.

Interestingly though, despite her closeness to Jinnah during all these years when he was almost the uncrowned “king” of Muslim India, Fatima Jinnah kept herself behind the scene; she was content to live under the shadow of the towering Quaid. She never utilized her vantage position to take to public office or public platform, leaving it to other women leaders like Begum Maulana Mohammad Ali (d. 1944), Begum Aijaz Rasul (1908-2001), Begum Jahanara Shah Nawaz (1896-1979) and Begum Salma Tasaduq Hussain (1908-1995), to assume leadership roles. She was, of course, active in organizing women (e.g., as Vice President, Women’s Wing of the All India Muslim League; founder, All India Muslim Women Students Federation, etc.), but she never aspired for public office, nor was she nominated by Jinnah for one. In both these cases, the brother and the sister broke the prevailing sub continental tradition of dynastic succession in the political realm.

Despite his democratic penchant and orientation, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), for instance, had nominated his sister, Vijay Lakshmi Pundit, as leader of the Indian delegation to the UN, and later as the Indian nominee for the presidentship of the UN General Assembly. He also got his daughter, Indira Gandhi (1917-1984), elected as the Congress president during his own life time, paving the way for her to succeed him. The super populist Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (1928-79) got Nusrat Bhutto (1929-2011) elected to a woman’s seats in the NA in March 1977. More explicable, he had her nominated as his successor for life as PPP Chairperson. Nusrat got her daughter, Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007), nominated as PPP’s Co-Chairperson. This all indicate of a tendency and setting the trend for dynastic rule in Pakistan and India. Bhutto’s trend was followed by Khan Abdul Wali Khan (d. 2006) getting his wife, Nasim Wali Khan, and son, Isfandyar Wali Khan, to get “elected” as NAP’s NWFP President and as NAP’s President respectively. Likewise, in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) Bandaranaika followed her husband in the seat of power in the 1950s, and in Bangladesh Hasina Sheikh and Khalida Zia assumed leadership roles in the wake of her father’s/husband’s assassination, since the 1980s. Thus, Fatima Jinnah alone had set her face against the dynastic tradition, so characteristic of, and so prevalent, in the entire region.

But, despite Fatima Jinnah’s cloistered approach and low-key profile for over a decade, the nation was able to discover in her a leader in her own right, after she emerged from the Quaid’s towering shadow. Thus, in the post-Jinnah period, she donned the role of a supreme guide and became the foremost symbol and advocate of Jinnah’s cherished principles. Thus, in a real sense, leadership came to be thrust on her. Indeed, she had to don the leadership role, whether she liked it or not.

Thus, Miss Jinnah did come to the public platform – but only at the fag end of her life, some fifteen years after Jinnah’s death and even then, only, at the imminent and desperate call of the nation. This she did to head the democratic movement against the incumbent Ayub regime in September 1964. And when she took to the public platform she did it with indefatigable courage and unflinching determination, whatever the disabilities, whatever the odds, whatever the consequences. And despite being a septuagenarian, she dutifully went through the strenuous campaign all the way – though it meant great discomfort to her personally, wrecking her physically, and putting her to all sorts of mean attacks by her opponents.

Indeed, the inexhaustible energy, the unrelenting stamina and the unflagging enthusiasm she displayed during the election campaign surprised almost everyone, friend and foe alike – including President Mohammad Ayub Khan. All this could have been, and was, made possible if only because of her strength of character and conviction, and her tenacity of purpose. In all this, again, Fatima Jinnah served as a role model for Pakistani women. It is not usually realized that by merely accompanying Jinnah wherever he went during the 1940s, Fatima Jinnah had psychologically prepared the Muslim women to stand shoulder to shoulder with men during the freedom struggle. Numerous pictures of the period show Miss Fatima Jinnah walking alongside Jinnah, not behind him. The message was loud and clear – the message both the brother and the sister wished to convey to the nation. And by 1945-46 the message had sunk deep enough, to induce Muslim women to participate to the hilt during the critical election campaign. Mian Mumtaz Daultana told me that almost one-third of the audiences in the election meetings in the Punjab comprised women. Women volunteers campaigning door to door in the urban areas, he said, made the Muslim League’s success at the hustings possible.

Likewise, Miss Jinnah’s political role during the 1950s and the 1960s helped a good deal in making women’s role in public life both respectable and credible; it facilitated other women in later years to don public roles without let or hindrance, without raising an eye brow. Indeed, her candidature in the 1965 presidential elections settled once and for all the knotty question whether a woman could be the head of a Muslim state. In the circumstances it was her candidature alone that could have induced a favourable fatwa from Maulana Abul Ala Maududi. And once that was acquired, the controversial issue ceased to be all that controversial for all time to come. In perspective this represents a singular contribution towards women’s regeneration, women’s empowerment and women participation in public life in Pakistan.

Even otherwise, Miss Jinnah believed that “Women are the custodians of a sacred trust – the best in the cultural and spiritual heritage of a nation”. And all through her life she called on women to equip themselves as best as they possibly could and play out their due role in the onward march of the nation.

To sum up, then, apart from leading the nation in its democratic quest at a critical hour in its history, her genius lay in helping the development of a modern Muslim female persona which would equip itself to shoulder, along with its male counterpart, the tasks of nation building the dramatic birth of the new nation in the most treacherous circumstances had called for.

The writer is HEC Distinguished National Professor, who has recently co-edited Unesco's History of Humanity, vol. VI, and The Jinnah Anthology (2010) and edited In Quest of Jinnah (2007), the only oral history on Pakistan's Founding Father.
18
August

Written By: Dr. Sania Nishtar

There is a striking similarity between a country and a child. In either case, someone has to keep an eye on their long-term interest. In the case of a child, it is typically the parents who make necessary investment in time and resources for the offspring’s future, looking at a horizon spanning many decades. Who exactly does that for a country, especially ours? Is there someone investing in strategic thought and planning for the future decades ahead of us? I am not sure where that explicit mandate and capacity exists.

Pakistan’s per-capita surface water availability, which was 5,260 cubic metres per-person annually in 1951, is expected to decline to 1,100 by 2035, the water scarcity mark and less than 900 by 2050. On the other hand, the country’s population is exploding. From 34 million in 1950 to 190 million today, our population is expected to rise to 300 million by 2050. Three million people, a whole new city, is adding to the country’s population every year. The two trend lines drawn based on these figures are stark and ominous. Pakistan is already water stressed. By 2030, water will be scarce. If population projections are factored in, we could reach the scarcity mark sooner.

Governments turn over in five years, at best. With their eye on the next election, decisions inevitably veer towards short-termism — five years is definitely short term in the course of a nation’s life. A further and serious complicating factor is the lack of effective mechanisms to compel accountability within the state system, as a result of which decision makers cannot be held responsible for their inattention to long-term threats and the imperative to act.

There are a number of orphan areas within this context, which need urgent attention. I am highlighting two of these in this comment just to bring to bear, the scale of impending problems — Pakistan’s water scarcity and the country’s exploding population. The threats emanating from each compound the other. Pakistan’s per-capita surface water availability, which was 5,260 cubic metres per-person annually in 1951, is expected to decline to 1,100 by 2035, the water scarcity mark and less than 900 by 2050. On the other hand, the country’s population is exploding. From 34 million in 1950 to 190 million today, our population is expected to rise to 300 million by 2050. Three million people, a whole new city, is adding to the country’s population every year. The two trend lines drawn based on these figures are stark and ominous. Pakistan is already water stressed. By 2030, water will be scarce. If population projections are factored in, we could reach the scarcity mark sooner.

In combination with pre-existing social and political problems, climate change could become a major destabilizing factor in the country.

Water scarcity has serious implications for economic growth since agriculture contributes 23% of the total GDP. It has grave implications for food and energy security in an already constrained milieu. Supply side water scarcity can be compounded manifold when complicated by demand-induced scarcity due to the country’s exploding population. With constrained economic opportunities and joblessness, it is a recipe for disaster. But the story doesn’t end here. Our existing pattern of inequitable distribution of resources is compounding water stresses — in particular rifts between the country’s agricultural and industrial elite over distribution of water for irrigation vis-à-vis water for hydroelectric power generation; rivalries between feudal strongholds over availability of water for irrigation and tenuous relationships between the provinces over the share of water and revenues tied to it.

The determinants of Pakistan’s impending water crisis are complex and interrelated. Amongst other factors, each can be traced back to the tendency towards short-termism. Our irrigation system, which consumes 97% of our water resources, just isn’t streamlined for efficiency. Its poor infrastructure, coupled with rampant corruption and inequity in the use of water, cause massive waste. Inattention to conservation has taken its toll. A further complicating factor is the impact of climate change to which Pakistan’s agrarian society is particularly sensitive. Already, there is evidence of reduction in the flow of water down the Indus River due to changes in the mass balance of the Karakorum glaciers. As climate variations become more manifest, chances of scarcity-induced issues also increase. For example, a new kind of tension was observed during the 2010 floods when, abuse of political influence in the irrigation sector led land-owner politicians to redirect natural flow of rivers to protect their lands. In combination with pre-existing social and political problems, climate change could become a major destabilizing factor in the country. I have listed just two areas to highlight the nature of long-term issues and their inter-connectedness. There are many other issues, which are equally destabilizing for the economy and society.

But it is not just the state engine where fixes are needed; long-term approaches have to be built into the basics of a society, which means the society at large and importantly the media has to change its narrative and learn to hold governments accountable in relation to performance in areas which matter for our future. Most countries which have made progress have woven long-term thinking into the strategic planning process. Nations cannot progress and prosper without that and we are no exception.

The phenomenon of short-termism in the state system is not unique to Pakistan. However, many countries are conscious of the problem and have put in place, institutional mechanisms as safeguards. As a starting point, we need to learn from them. Sustainable development commissions, strategy units that think beyond the next election, commissioner or ombudsman for future generations, environmental limits act that stipulates a limit on environmental impacts, specialist committees, an encompassing definition of treason, and relevant constitutional provisions are all institutional vehicles for ingraining a long-term view of government. But it is not just the state engine where fixes are needed; long-term approaches have to be built into the basics of a society, which means the society at large and importantly the media has to change its narrative and learn to hold governments accountable in relation to performance in areas which matter for our future. Most countries which have made progress have woven long-term thinking into the strategic planning process. Nations cannot progress and prosper without that and we are no exception.

The writer is a former Federal Minister and holds a Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of London. A PhD from Kings College, London, she is an eminent social scientist and regularly contributes in national print media on issues of health, governance and public policy. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
18
August

Written By: Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

Although Beijing did not veto the amendment in the trade rules of NSG to accommodate India in 2008, yet it has maintained a firm stance on the membership of NSG. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying categorically stated that: “The recently concluded 9th NPT Review Conference has reaffirmed this consensus. On account of this, the NSG has so far regarded the status of the NPT state as a crucial standard to accept new member state.” In simple terms, China has manifested its stance that the twist in established principles of joining NSG would not be acceptable. Accordingly, it is prerequisite for India to join the NPT to become a member of the NSG club.

Since 2010, the Obama Administration has been supporting India’s bid for full membership of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) for the sake of Washington’s political, strategic and economic interests. The United States delegates argued that India was “ready for membership of the NSG” during the 2015 Annual Plenary Meeting (June 1-5, 2015) of the Group held at Bariloche in Argentina. However, the NSG members’ long-standing consensus that only Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) parties are allowed to become a member of the Group frustrates both New Delhi and Washington. China reiterated its support for consensus regarding the NPT being a cornerstone of the NSG during the recent 9th NPT Review Conference held in New York. This Chinese declaration generates an impression that Beijing would veto India’s attempt to join the NSG. Indeed, it would be having wearisome impact on the India’s ambition to join the nuclear supplier cartel, but it would be having a constructive contribution in preventing the further derailing of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Moreover, it has exposed the limits of India’s self-proclaimed ‘clean waiver’ from the Nuclear Supplier Group in 2008.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in March 1970. Though NPT impedes the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons, yet it legitimizes non-nuclear weapon states right (party to the treaty) to acquire nuclear technology from the NSG for the sake of peaceful use (power generation, treating diseases such as cancer and increasing agriculture productivity) under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The NPT had failed to prevent India from nuclear explosion on May 18, 1974. India’s nuclear weapon test alarmed Pakistan. It immediately approached the United Nations’ Security Council for the establishment of Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in South Asia (NWFZSA). However, Islamabad failed to establish NWFZSA to prevent India from advancing its nuclear weapons programme. Realizing the double standards of the great powers, non-implementation of the Article VI of the NPT (obliges nuclear weapon states denuclearization) and above all the discriminatory-cum-denial policies of the western nuclear supplier nations; Islamabad started its own nuclear weapons’ programme.

Importantly, India misused nuclear imports for peaceful purposes to conduct a nuclear explosion on May 18, 1974. New Delhi acquired and used illicitly spent fuel of CIRUS reactor for generating plutonium for its ‘Buddha is Smiling’ in 1974. In a reaction to the Indian act, the nuclear suppliers constituted the Nuclear Supplier Group in 1975, which entered into force in 1978. Interestingly, in mid-1970s the Americans played a key role in the negotiations for establishing NSG. They were the zealous supporters to the movement, which demands that nuclear supplier states should not do nuclear trade with those states which refused to join Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The NSG members should ensure prior to the transfer of nuclear technology that the recipient state is observing comprehensive IAEA safeguards on its nuclear facilities.

China reiterated its support for consensus regarding the NPT being a cornerstone of the NSG during the recent 9th NPT Review Conference held in New York. This Chinese declaration generates an impression that Beijing would veto India’s attempt to join the NSG. Indeed, it would be having wearisome impact on the India’s ambition to join the nuclear supplier cartel, but it would be having a constructive contribution in preventing the further derailing of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Moreover, it has exposed the limits of India’s self-proclaimed ‘clean waiver’ from the Nuclear Supplier Group in 2008.

The Bush Administration endeavoured (July 2005-October 2008) to capture the Indian growing economic market by defying all global Nuclear Non-proliferation Regime’s norms. With the cooperation of the American nuclear-commercial-lobby, the Administration successfully pacified the nuclear cooperation pessimists in the United States, who scientifically underscored the negativity of the nuclear trade with India. The Indian leadership also acted timely and used Washington's clout in the NSG for securing exemption from the stringent nuclear export laws of the Group. Consequently, the 45-member NSG agreed in Vienna on September 6, 2008, to exempt NPT hold-out India from its guidelines that require comprehensive IAEA safeguards as a condition for nuclear trade. It reversed more than three decades of NSG policy that had barred the sale of nuclear fuel and reactor technology to India. Ironically, the NSG members have completely ignored the foundational logic of the NSG in 1975, which entered into force in 1978. Neither, they have pressurized India to join the NPT for the sake of nuclear technological assistance, nor they are preserving the philosophical constructs of the NSG.

Since India received waiver from the Nuclear Supplier Group and entry-into-force of Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008, the New Delhi has been endeavouring to become a member of the Nuclear Supplier Group. India’s Nuclear Supplier Group membership may be having lesser economic dividends for it in the prevalent global economic setting, however, its NSG membership would have immense political and strategic significance in the global politics. Importantly, even if India fails to secure an NSG membership, it could not be deprived from sophisticated nuclear technology. The nuclear supplier nations would continue to transfer advanced nuclear technology to India despite the fact that it is not party to the NPT and is also a declared nuclear weapon state.

It was reported that India has formally applied for the membership of MTCR, a club of 34 countries that controls trade in missile and space technology. India’s joining application may happen at MTCR’s plenary due in September-October 2015. It seems that New Delhi might get membership of the MTCR because China is not a member of the Regime. Importantly, if India succeeds in securing the membership of NSG, it would easily join the MTCR, which would be having a constructive impact on India’s offensive and defensive missiles programmes.

The NSG membership would not only elevate India’s stature in the comity of nations, but it also facilitates its entry into other important strategic cartels, i.e. the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. These three regimes have decisive contribution in controlling the spread of military technology. In simple words, primary responsibility of these cartels is to deny military technology to the developing states or preserve the strategic imbalance between the military-technologically advantageous nations and militarily disadvantageous states.

It was reported that India has formally applied for the membership of MTCR, a club of 34 countries that controls trade in missile and space technology. India’s joining application may happen at MTCR’s plenary due in September-October 2015. It seems that New Delhi might get membership of the MTCR because China is not a member of the Regime. Importantly, if India succeeds in securing the membership of NSG, it would easily join the MTCR, which would be having a constructive impact on India’s offensive and defensive missiles programmes.

India is determined to join the NSG to revolutionize its nuclear programme through both the import and export of nuclear technology. Currently, New Delhi is allowed to import the nuclear technology for its non-military nuclear facilities. However, it is not allowed to export the nuclear technology. Despite this, India has signed peaceful use of nuclear technology related agreements with Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The membership of NSG definitely has constructive impact on India’s nuclear industry. It’s because, being a member of NSG, New Delhi will not only get access to world-class nuclear technology but would be permitted to export its own nuclear technology to countries that comply with the NSG.

Although Beijing did not veto the amendment in the trade rules of NSG to accommodate India in 2008, yet it has maintained a firm stance on the membership of NSG. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying categorically stated that: “The recently concluded 9th NPT Review Conference has reaffirmed this consensus. On account of this, the NSG has so far regarded the status of the NPT state as a crucial standard to accept new member state.” In simple terms, China has manifested its stance that the twist in established principles of joining NSG would not be acceptable. Accordingly, it is prerequisite for India to join the NPT to become a member of the NSG club.

China seems determined to honour the international community’s long-standing consensus regarding the NPT being a cornerstone of the NSG. That’s why it also makes clear to its strategic partner Pakistan that “while it supports its gaining access to the NSG, signing the treaty was ‘crucial’.” Importantly, China has not linked the continuity of its nuclear technological assistance to Pakistan for the sake of peaceful use of nuclear technology with Islamabad’s signing of the NPT. Hence, it will not only complete Chasma-3, Chasma-4, Karachi-2 and Karachi-3 nuclear power plants but also assist Islamabad in designing and constructing nuclear power plants under the IAEA safeguards in the future.

To conclude, Beijing’s principle stance checkmates New Delhi’s bid to seek membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The writer is Director and Associate Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He contributes for print and electronic media regularly. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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