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A man armed with an assault rifle and pledging loyalty to the militant Islamic State (IS) killed 50 people during a gay pride celebration at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early on Sunday in the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, a rampage President Barack Obama denounced as an act of terror and hate. Police killed the gunman, who was identified as Omar Mateen, 29, a New York-born Florida resident and US citizen who was the son of immigrants from Afghanistan and had twice been questioned by FBI agents in recent years Fifty-three people were wounded in the rampage. It is ranked as the deadliest single US mass shooting incident, eclipsing the massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech University in 2007. US officials cautioned, however, they had no conclusive evidence of any direct connection with any foreign extremist group.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed his sadness over the gruesome act of terrorism in Florida State USA in which fifty people killed. In a statement, the Prime Minister says this was against every principle of pluralism, tolerance and humanity that we have been striving for. This does not represent the will of a vast majority of Muslims. Says, it is just another representation of a cancer of radicalization – one that we promise to fight every day of our lives.

Pakistan's credentials stronger than India for NSG membership: Sartaj Aziz

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz says Pakistan's credentials for the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) are stronger than India's if the 48-nation cartel agrees to form a uniform criterion for non-NPT states. Pakistan has diplomatically engaged numerous countries over the criteria-based approach for non-NPT countries.

Pakistan has gradually gathered support for the criteria based approach. "Last week, I telephoned the foreign ministers of Russia, New Zealand and South Korea, who will in future head the NSG, and our viewpoint was that they should support the criteria-based approach, and we have gathered support for it, China was already supporting it" said the adviser to PM.

Due to Pakistan's efforts and its strong credentials, if India gains entry into the club, Pakistan will not be left behind. US has formed a policy to 'build up India' as "their entire attention is towards containing the Islamic world and China".

"We cannot question them but we repeatedly tell them that you (US) are a sovereign country and can maintain any level of relations with any country, but if you increase the strategic and conventional imbalance in South Asia, our problems will increase," said the foreign affairs adviser while referring to US support for India's inclusion in NSG

Pak-India relations

Regarding Pakistan's relations with India, he says things have changed as the Modi administration wants to normalise ties, but according to their 'preferences' and India does not wish to discuss the Kashmir issue. "The whole world agrees that the two countries should start dialogue for lasting peace in South Asia."

India's NSG bid

India's membership of the NSG is "not merited until the country meets the group's standards". The group's membership has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty but India has refused to do so, which means "it has not accepted legally binding commitments to pursue disarmament negotiations, halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and not test nuclear weapons".

A key US Senator, Ed Markey, had also warned that enabling India to join the NSG would cause a “never-ending” nuclear race in South Asia. Pakistan's application is likely to lead to a showdown in the group which has also been facing calls to induct India as a member. US President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that his country is backing India’s bid to join the club. China could also insist, as a condition of India's membership, that Pakistan also be allowed to join.

Analysts

Engr. Baligh-ur-Rehman (Minister of State for Interior)

“Terrorism has become a global issue. Pakistan is the victim of menace of terrorism since long. The incumbent government and the security forces with the mutual consensus initiated Operation Zarb-e-Azb to wipe out terrorism from the country. Now, terrorism has reduced to a great extent. The world has also realized that Pakistan has always supported peace. The terrorists have no religion because none of the religions teaches extremism. Thousands of people belonging to different religions attended the funeral ceremony of Muhammad Ali. Islam neither allows nor promotes terrorism. United States is involved in Drone attack in Balochistan in which Mullah Mansour was killed. This act has affected the peace dialogue between Afghan government and Taliban.”

Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Farooq Iqbal (Defence Analyst)

“It is a fact that Pakistan’s Nuclear Command and Control system is in safe hands. The international organizations have also appreciated the safe and secure nuclear program of Pakistan. The main issue is that the United States is supporting India to be the member of Nuclear Suppliers Group which is an injustice because, just like Pakistan, India has not signed NPT. So if India qualifies for the membership of this group then Pakistan also qualifies for it. Pakistan has diplomatically engaged numerous countries over the criteria-based approach for non-NPT countries, which is a good development. The main reason of United States supporting India is to counter China as China is emerging as an economic power and perceived as a threat to other super powers.”


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