. .

Politics & Policy
CTBT: To cign or not to sing?

For the record
Zafar Aziz Osmani
Science & Technology
Medical advances
Microsoft saga continues
Politics & Policy
CTBT: To sign or not to sign?
Panacea for Pakistan Economy

Many peoples are not aware of its contents and the implications

From Shamim Ahmed Rizvi, Islamabad
Mar 06 - 12, 2000

The recent hype about whether to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or not is, at present, at its peak. Unfortunately, however, many people who have jumped into the CTBT debate have not even read the treaty and are not aware of its contents. Despite their total ignorance about its implications they are vehemently participating in the debate whether the country will loose or gain by signing CTBT.

Ever since it was placed for signing of the member states at the United Nations headquarte, Pakistan has remained under pressure from western powers to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). One of the reasons for this pressure is a clause in the treaty which stipulates that the CTBT cannot go into effect unless and until it is signed by Pakistan, India and Israel. In the treaty draft in 1996 they were mentioned as nuclear "threshhold states".

Since then, after the testing of their respective nuclear devices in 1998, Pakistan and India have acquired the status of nuclear powers even though it is only de facto in nature. The pressure on Pakistan reached its highest point after the testing and, finally Pakistan yielded to the pressure when in the summer of 1998 its Prime Minister pledged to the UN General Assembly that his country would indeed sign the CTBT by September 1999. Pakistan might have done if there were no Kargil crisis and the events which followed those crises.

After an interval of few months the CTBT is in the headlines again, Restating its position the Government of Pakistan have stressed the following points. One, it would go for signing only after a national consensus is evolved which favours such a step; two, Pakistan's action on CTBT won't be linked with the Indian position; Finally, if India conducts tests, Pakistan would be obliged to do the same.

Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar's recent pronouncements on the subject indicate that Pakistan is almost prepared to go for the signing. This was also the impression one gathered from the news reports which covered the meeting of foreign policy advisory group. However, there still remains a considerably opposition to Pakistan's entry into CTBT. Foremost opponent to the treaty is Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) which in the third week of December put up demonstrations in various cities. These were followed by statements by JUI leadership which joined JI in opposing CTBT. The criticism of CTBT albeit muffled, was also voiced by some circles of Pakistan Muslim League and ANP. Pakistan People's Party (PPP) favours signing of the treaty.

The opponents of CTBT, particularly the right-wing type, don't seem to have closely studied the text of CTBT, nor they seem to realize that Pakistan participated in preparation of the text and approved it prior to its opening up for state parties signature in 1996. Further the opponents seem to be confusing CTBT with NPT when they argue that Pakistan's acceptance of the former would weaken its defences. Whether such arguments are forwarded deliberately or because of ignorance is hard to understand. However, a glance over the treaty text may help in dispelling the mist which over the period has gathered around the subject.

The article(I) of the CTBT lays down basic obligation of the states which sign the treaty. It reads, "Each State Party undertakes not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion, or any other nuclear explosion and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under its jurisdiction or control". It must be noted that the obligation of signatory to CTBT is confined to testing. Inspection of nuclear facilities or rollback of the programme is not involved. Basically the treaty does not intend to weaken the defence line of a state which NPT for instance definitely does.

Article (II) of the CTBT is longest in content and fundamental to its organizational structure. In contrast to the organization of United Nations, the treaty structure is free from discrimination and gives no veto power to any state or group of states. At the top is the conference of State Parties which includes all signatories with each having one vote. The Conference elects the Executive Council which shall consist of 51 members and represent all geographical regions. It will be comprised of ten states from African, seven from Eastern Europe, nine from Latin America, seven from South Asia and Middle East, ten from North America and Western Europe, and eight states from South East Asia; the Pacific and the Far East.

Unlike the UN Security Council, no member in Executive Council of CTBT has the dominant power. In matters, of procedure it shall take decisions by a majority of all its members and on matters of substance by a two-third majority of all its members. Its formost function shall be to implement the treaty which in turn involves monitoring of nuclear explosion anywhere in the world, and propose action against such activity. A technical secretariat and vast network of monitoring system shall help the Council to discharge its functions.

Articles III, IV and V lists measures which could be taken to ensure compliance with treaty.

From the stand point of Pakistani fears and apprehensions the article IX provides that, "Each state party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from this treaty if it decides that extraordinary events relating to the subject matter of this treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests". Thus Pakistan if at any point of time feels threatened by nuclear related developments in the region nothing could stop it from withdrawing from CTBT and conducts its own nuclear tests. This may perhaps account for Dr. Qadeer Khan and the Foreign Minister's recent statements that signing of CTBT is not against our national interest.

As against this we stand to gain a lot by signing the CTBT. As we strive to revive our economy, Pakistan needs cooperation and help from the donor nations. Entry into CTBT is most likely to ensure that help. General Musharraf's government, to be honest, has not been accepted by the international community that matters, i.e. Western donors and our major trading partners, and a major conditionality for that acceptance is perceived to be signing of the CTBT. This may provide a new beginning for the present Government which is very keen to revive the destroyed economy of Pakistan. Pakistan may get the necessary help and financial assistance for carrying out its reform agenda. Our major donors Japan, Germany and France have given clear indications to this effect. Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan, only last week, publicly announced in Karachi that Japan would make up for nearly 1.5 billion US dollars which Pakistan did not receive since 1998 because of sanctions. Talking to the newsmen at a function of Japanese Business Companies in Pakistan the ambassador Mr. Minoru Kubota said Japan had been providing, on an average, $ 500 million assistance per annum which had been lost because of the economic measures introduced as required by Japanese ODA guidelines.

Once Pakistan signed the CTBT, Japan would resume normal assistance in a big way. Its tangible results would appear in four to five months' time and the people would feel the difference, he said.

Japanese companies operating in Pakistan have also urged Pakistan to sign CTBT as it would facilitate resumption of Japanese aid and inflow of private investment to Pakistan. Addressing a press conference, Hvyashi Otani, President, Japanese Association of Commerce and Industry (JACI) representing Japanese companies doing business in Pakistan listed many factors holding back Japanese private investment in Pakistan putting CTBT at the top. Businessmen from European countries are also keen to invest in Pakistan specially in the Petroleum & Gas sectors which the Privatization Commission has decided to offer for sale. They are also waiting for signing of CTBT.