Strongly of the view that Pakistan must restrain the development of its growing nuclear arsenal, eminent experts at top American think-tanks believe that given the country’s past record it is unlikely to “play by any rules” to agree to a civil nuclear deal with the US.
“I simply don’t believe that Pakistan will be willing to play by any rules or with any transparency on nuclear issues, since it has not done so to date,” Alyssa Ayres of American think tank Council on Foreign Relations said.
“Count me among the pessimists about any civil nuclear deal that has been the subject of a couple press reports,” the top American expert said.
Ayres, however, said it would be in “everyone’s interest to see Pakistan restrain the development of its nuclear weapons.”
C Christine Fair, Associate Professor at the Georgetown University, said some years ago she had proposed a civilian nuclear deal that also dealt with Pakistan’s use of terrorists as a tool of its foreign policy.
“My argument then was that Pakistan would benefit from such a deal (far more limited than that received by India) only when it met all of the (conditions). I had no illusion it would never meet those conditions while noting that any marginal improvement would be good,” Fair said.
“However, by putting this on the table publicly the US would have to acknowledge that if Pakistan is unwilling to give up these behaviours, there is nothing else the US government can do and would have to prepare for a more coercive strategy to manage Pakistan’s rogue behaviours, which include nuclear coercion and terrorism as central features of its foreign policy,” she said.
Fair said after proposing this concept, she learned that her proposal was raised in Pakistan.
“I was told by a senior Pakistani official that the concept was floated by (former Director General ISI Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja) Pasha and he rejected it. Unfortunately, this has not been made public. So I have complete confidence that Pakistan will never make satisfactory progress on the brackets,” Fair said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to visit the US from October 20, and hold talks with President Barack Obama during which the two leaders are expected to discuss the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
It is in this context that multiple media reports in the US have said that the two countries are headed for a civilian nuclear deal. The White House has ruled out any such deal.
Lisa Curtis from The Heritage Foundation, another top American think-tank, agreed with Fair.
“It would be a mistake for the Obama administration to separate the nuclear and counterterrorism issues in its discussions with Pakistan,” she said.