Entertaining Pak’s wish-list will impact Indo-US relations.
This rather optimistic piece by Baqir Sajjad Syed surfaced in the Dawn yesterday, conveying GHQ’s wish-list and expectations from Washington. Rawalpindi feels the need to tell the Americans that it is time to “move on from symbolism and concretely address Pakistan’s core security concerns and its immediate economic needs.” Pakistan is therefore “seeking tangible deliverances” from the US. Translation, give us the reigns to Afghanistan, get India to budge on Kashmir and give us a nuclear deal along the lines of the Indo-US 123 Agreement.
The last demand is interesting, given how its need is articulated in the Dawn. While the article submits that nuclear energy was needed to meet its growing energy needs, Islamabad really wants it because it doesn’t want to see itself being discriminated against vis-a-vis India. In other words, rehyphenate the dehyphenation. Polaris has an excellent take on this sort of fallacious equating. But this theme isn’t a stranger to discourse in some circles in the US. Christine Fair’s Wall Street Journal piece in February recommended a “glutton for punishment” approach, where the US would offer Pakistan a “conditions-based” civil nuclear deal in return for Pakistan refocusing its efforts in resolving Washington’s conundrum in AfPak.
Forget that such a proposal would be shot down by Congress (by non-proliferation nazis in Mr. Obama’s own party, for starters) faster than Dick Cheney with a rifle. Or that even in the very unlikely event that the Obama Administration could succeed in obtaining the blessings of the House and the Senate, there would be no way the Nuclear Suppliers Group would grant a waver to Pakistan (a non-NPT signatory), given its rich and vibrant history of nuclear proliferation. Indeed, the very notion that the Obama Administration would consider such an arrangement with Pakistan would hurt an already ailing Indo-US relationship. This blogger will therefore suggest that such a proposition be relegated to intellectual discussion only.
But Mr. Obama has done a terrific job on foreign policy, these past several months: appease your adversaries and alienate your allies. The Western media is replete with articles about Dr. AQ Khan, as if Dr. Khan ran his “nuclear Wal Mart” independent of any official sanction from the powers-that-be in Rawalpindi. For those Pakistani apologists in DC suffering from short term memory loss, The Washington Post serves up a timely reminder:
As troops massed on his border near the start of the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein weighed the purchase of a $150 million nuclear “package” deal that included not only weapons designs but also production plants and foreign experts to supervise the building of a nuclear bomb, according to documents uncovered by a former U.N. weapons inspector.
The offer, made in 1990 by an agent linked to disgraced Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, guaranteed Iraq a weapons-assembly line capable of producing nuclear warheads in as little as three years. But Iraq lost the chance to capitalize when, months later, a multinational force crushed the Iraqi army and forced Hussein to abandon his nuclear ambitions, according to nuclear weapons expert David Albright, who describes the proposed deal in a new book.
Oh, and lest anyone seek to absolve the Pakistani State of any wrongdoing, let David Albright’s conversation on CNN with Wolf Blitzer serve as a reminder:
BLITZER: Is [AQ Khan] under any restrictions whatsoever?
ALBRIGHT: No. He’s actually launched a media campaign to try to say he didn’t do any of this. And so, it’s almost outrageous that he want us becoming free mounting a media campaign to clear his name supposedly, and ironically when he’s in court, he actually says he has no contact with western media, so he’s trying to have it all ways, and I think it’s a travesty in justice.
BLITZER: Because he was involved in helping not only the Iranians but the Iraqis and others, Libya, right?
ALBRIGHT: That’s right.
BLITZER: And then he was under house arrest by the Pakistanis, but no law even under house arrest.
ALBRIGHT: That’s right.
BLITZER: And the U.S. has never really had an access to questioning directly.
ALBRIGHT: That’s right. No one has. And the Pakistani government served as questioners for all, including the United States, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other countries. It was very unsatisfactory.