Pakistan scuttles arms control at Geneva citing FMCT signing pressure

Pakistan blocked global consensus built by India on future disarmament talks at Geneva in 2024.

Pakistan is opposed to signing the FMCT as it claims that this would affect its military posture with India.

New Delhi: Pakistan continued to play the spoilsport at the Conference of Disarmament (CD) Geneva as it today blocked the ‘2024 Program of Work’ for the multi-lateral negotiating forum proposed by India as President despite no reference to the Fissile-Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) in the proposal. Since CD Geneva functions on consensus, Pakistan’s opposition effectively scuttled the program.

“It is just the bloody-mindedness of Pakistan to block the POW with no substantive reason to do so,” said a veteran disarmament diplomat while maintaining that India during its one month of Presidency (Jan 21-February 20) came out with a document after consultations to ensure its success. The last POW that was adopted by CD Geneva was in 2022.

HT learns that at the Plenary meeting of the CD on Friday, Islamabad showed its hand in blocking the work of disarmament and arms control, something it has consistently done. Pakistan is opposed to signing the FMCT as it claims that this would affect its military posture with India.

The US, France, Russia, UK and even China supported the India ‘POW’, and several delegations at the Plenary meeting wanted to know the exact reason why Pakistan was blocking the proposal. According to diplomats familiar with the matter, Pakistan scuttled the consensus as the ‘POW’ was proposed by India and it did not want New Delhi to succeed in achieving a consensus. CD Geneva is a negotiating body that has hardly delivered since 2009 when it worked on FMCT, prevention of arms race in space , and the issue of addressing negative security assurances.

In its statement at the plenary on Friday, Pakistan’s representative said that his country did not agree to characterize Pakistan as the only member state not willing to join the consensus. “ In the negotiations, we also witnessed once more the obsession with the FMCT and the Shannon Mandate (related to FMCT). We were told that the CD has a negotiating mandate only on one issue and a number of attempts were made to directly and indirectly reflect problematic references in the text. These delegations have made the CD hostage to a single issue and consider it as a forum, which can negotiate nothing but the FMCT” the Pakistan representative stated.

The Indian representative at the CD in his remarks highlighted the fact that a compromise was made to the ‘POW’ to accommodate Pakistan’s concern on FMCT. “ The Conference is aware that in the spirit of compromise changes were made to the draft decision specifically to take into account Pakistan’s considerations,” the Indian envoy said.

Pakistan’s iron brother China did not castigate its ally for holding the CD consensus hostage to its concerns which were not even part of the proposed ‘POW.’ In his statement, the Chinese envoy stated: “ The consideration is done on the basis of consensus not on the basis of consensus minus one or consensus minus few. China understands the importance of expeditiously moving to substantive work in a comprehensive and balanced manner, fully respecting differences and the red lines of delegations (read Pakistan).”

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