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US reluctant to sign a civil nuclear accord with Pakistan

Friday 14 August 2009

LAHORE: Despite Pakistan’s frantic efforts to conclude a civil nuclear accord with the United States to overcome its crippling energy crisis, the United States is reluctant to oblige due to the trust deficit between Washington and Islamabad on the issue of nuclear proliferation.

According to some well placed foreign office circles in Islamabad, the Pakistan government is making serious efforts to conclude a civil nuclear accord with the United States to overcome its crippling energy crisis, primarily to overcome the country’s crippling energy crisis. However, the Pakistani efforts in this regard has so far failed to produce desired results due to the American pressure to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Pakistan’s demand that it should be offered a pact on the lines of the landmark civil nuclear deal concluded by India and the United States.

To a question, the foreign office circles in Islamabad confirmed that Pakistan had held up the resumption of nuclear arms control negotiations at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament [on August 10, 2009], asking to reopen a work plan which has already agreed on by the main nuclear powers. The sources said that the Pakistani delegation, which had sought more time on August 7, 2009 to consult the decision makers in Islamabad, maintained on August 10 that it wanted fresh discussions on procedural questions in a draft text detailing the various heads of negotiating groups and the timetable for the talks.

As a matter of fact, Pakistan has officially protested the Indo-US civil-nuclear deal in the past. However, it faced a paradox. It could either go all out and oppose it or demand a similar deal for itself in which case it could not use the proliferation argument to oppose the US-India deal. In reality, it happily let the non-proliferationists in the US oppose the deal while lobbying for it herself. There was never a consistent policy but privately everyone in Islamabad had realised that it could not stop the deal from outside. The Pakistan government therefore hoped that the deal would make shipwreck on a number of rocks, given the meandering course it had to take to fruition. Ironically, the deal nearly got wrecked because of the Left and Right within India.

Even today, some elements within Pakistan are trying to present a bleak picture of what India can get out of this deal. According to a leading Pakistani newspaper, Daily Times, the fact is that the advantage of the Indo-US deal to India is not that it will be able to make more bombs or become energy-efficient. “It already has enough bombs to deter Pakistan and the deal is unlikely to address its energy needs beyond 10 to 12 percent. The real advantage is that America and with it Russia, France and Australia had accepted India’s rising status as a partner state and gone a couple of extra miles to accommodate its nuclear status legally outside the NPT. That is where the rub lies for the decision makers Islamabad. When the decision makers in the White House say Pakistan could not get a similar deal, they actually refer to how Pakistan is looked at despite being an American ally in the war on terror. The Pakistani public has never made any bones about being anti-American. Washington knows that Pakistan is allied with it not because it accepts the current global status quo but because it cannot break free of it presently. India, on the other hand, has accepted the global architecture and gone to work on enhancing its status within it. Therefore, there is a world of difference between the two approaches, present as they do two different worldviews”.


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