Pakistan Troubled by US Nuclear Deal With India

Daily News Article   —   Posted on March 20, 2006

(by Patrick Goodenough, – Washington’s agreement to resume nuclear energy cooperation with India could affect the balance of power in South Asia, Pakistani officials have warned. There is continuing debate in the country about the implications of the Bush administration’s new policy towards India.

Formally responding to the introduction of a bill in Congress to authorize the Indo-U.S. nuclear accord, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said Washington should have offered Pakistan a similar deal.

The agreement with India would only encourage it “to continue its weapons program without any constraint or inhibition,” it said in a statement.

Under the deal signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the president’s trip to New Delhi and Islamabad early this month, the U.S. will supply India with nuclear fuel and technology in return for India taking steps to place its civilian nuclear facilities under international safeguards.

It requires congressional approval to change laws or make an exception for India, a country with whom nuclear cooperation was severed after its first nuclear tests in the 1970s.

Pakistan said making a special exception for India would have “serious implications for the security environment in South Asia as well as for international nonproliferation efforts.”

The request for a deal similar to India’s was echoed at the weekend by Jehangir Karamat, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.N., who said there should be a nuclear technology “package” for both countries.

Karamat voiced hope that Washington’s South Asia policy “will not be based on transitory and evolving trends, but rather, on relationships that are maturing in these fluid situations.”

The newly expressed stance seemed to indicate a shift from General Pervez Musharraf’s remarks shortly after Bush left the region, when the Pakistani leader said his country’s needs were different to those of India.

“We don’t have to bother what they [the Americans] are doing with India,” he said at the time.

Both India and Pakistan are keen to develop their nuclear energy sectors to help fuel fast-growing economies.

But while Bush has agreed to the landmark agreement with India, U.S. officials have said Pakistan did not merit the same type of deal because unlike India it has not been responsible with nuclear know how.

The discovery in 2004 of an international nuclear black market run by the head of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, confirmed security and proliferation experts’ suspicions about Pakistan’s leakage of secrets to rogue states like Iran and North Korea.

Muslim Pakistan and predominantly Hindu India, both declared nuclear weapons powers since 1998, have been rivals for half a century, and fought three wars against each other. Through the Cold War India tilted towards the Soviet Union while Pakistan was a U.S. ally, while also enjoying good relations with China.

Pakistan’s position was cemented in the aftermath of 9/11, when Musharraf turned his back on the Taliban — a former ally — and sided with the U.S. in the campaign against Islamist terrorists in Afghanistan.

But Washington has now launched a drive to build a strategic partnership with India, and the nuclear deal is a major cog in the strategy. Many in Pakistan are wondering where this leaves their country’s relationship with the U.S.

Nasim Zehra, an Islamabad-based security analyst, said Bush had starkly contrasted his views about the two South Asian nations.

“India was Washington’s grand partner in global reform while Pakistan a partner, an errant partner to be kept on track to fight terrorism.”

She said the Indo-U.S. deal sent a clear signal to Pakistan that even at the high point of its cooperation with the U.S., it still wasn’t trusted.

“We have to recognize that the world pays more attention to India than to Pakistan because it is a much larger country with bigger military and economic clout,” Shahid M. Amin, a former ambassador for Pakistan, wrote in the Dawn daily.

“With the exit of the Soviet Union, the geopolitical situation has changed. The U.S. now sees India, the world’s largest democracy, as a natural strategic ally against China.”

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at