US, UK against Pak nukes?
Talking to media, Defence Secretary Lt General (R) Asif Yasin Malik on Friday said: “The United States and Britain are against Pakistan’s nuclear programme and the CIA uses ‘foreign agencies’ for its operations in Pakistan. He also claimed that they had ‘complete information’ of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents working in Pakistan, and US had provided a list of its spies. But the next day he retracted his earlier assertion.
Moreover, he also purportedly stated that Washington’s (toughened) tone and tenor towards Pakistan was ‘changing’ and there were no Black Water marines here anymore. Regardless of what Yasin Malik said, the fact remains that the US in the past used every conceivable subterfuge to raise concerns over Pak nukes, and every imaginable trick to disgrace Pakistan military and its agencies. Anyhow, America’s efforts to monitor Pakistan’s nuclear program date back to the time when late Bhutto had expressed his determination to make nuclear device.
Last year, declassified documents had revealed that the United States waged a secret diplomatic campaign as early as in late 1970s to prevent Pakistan from developing nuclear weapons. Officials in President Jimmy Carter’s administration had expressed fears about Pakistan’s efforts to go nuclear, and had tried both pressure and aid incentives to seek a change in its behavior. In a secret November 1978 memo, then secretary of state Cyrus Vance had instructed US diplomats in Western Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan to warn their governments that Pakistan or its covert agents were seeking nuclear material. Vance admitted that Pakistan was motivated by concerns over historic rival India, which had already detonated a nuclear device in 1974. He had voiced alarm that “Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, before being deposed as prime minister in a coup, had said that Pakistan would share nuclear weapons around the Islamic world”. After General Zia overthrew Bhutto government in 1977, the US did not show its aversion to dictatorship but sounded supportive of the change.
When the Soviets occupied Afghanistan in 1979, the United States prepared a major assistance package for Pakistan as part of strategic partnership against the Soviets in Afghanistan. During that period, the close partnership forged between Pakistan and the US helped the Afghans to resist Soviet occupation, eventually leading to the rollback of communism. It has to be mentioned that in the same very year that the Soviets were forced to retreat from Afghanistan, the Berlin war crumbled in Europe, which was a prelude to the demise of the Soviet Union. However, after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Pakistan was left on its own to face the consequences in the form of three million Afghan refugees, Kalashnikov culture and profusion of narcotics which spread from the uncontrolled areas of Afghanistan to parts of Pakistan. With the end of the Cold War, the US reevaluated and downgraded its relationship with Pakistan, as the changing ground realities did not warrant continuation of the old strategic partnership, and started considering sanctions against Pakistan.
In October 1990, economic and military sanctions were imposed on Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment, a country-specific law that singled out only one nation on the nuclear issue. One consequence of the Pressler sanctions was the US decision to withhold Pakistan military equipment contracted prior to 1990 worth $1.2 billion, even though Pakistan had paid for this. It is appropriate to give some details about the sanctions. The 1985 Pressler Amendment authorized banning most military and economic assistance to Pakistan, if an annual presidential determination that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device was not given. In May 1998, after Pakistan detonated nuclear devices in response to Indian tests, American imposed Nuclear Test Sanctions on Pakistan. President Bill Clinton imposed additional sanctions on Pakistan, invoking the 1994 Glenn Amendment, which authorizes sanctions on non-nuclear weapon states that detonate nuclear explosions, and the Symington Amendment, which prohibits military and economic assistance to any country that delivers and/or receives nuclear assistance.
In October 1999, when Musharraf overthrew Nawaz government, US Congress invoked Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act, prohibiting all U.S. economic and military aid to Pakistan. When the US needed Pakistan after 9/11, sanctions were lifted. So far as sovereignty of Pakistan and security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets are concerned, Pakistan’s civil and military are on the same page. COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had warned that any miscalculation and misadventure directed against Pakistan’s nuclear assets would be dealt with full force irrespective of the consequences. Pakistan leadership had conveyed the message that relations between Pakistan and the US must be based on equality, respect and mutual trust. Another bone of contention was that the US insisted on early launch of military operation against Taliban factions, in particular, the Haqqani network that Americans allege is the launching pad for violence in Afghanistan. In fact, the US is being misguided by India and its cohorts in Afghan government to spoil relations between Pakistan and the US.
Pakistan contended that an urgent operation in North Waziristan will destroy our long term shared objectives to root out terrorism, and that Pakistan would launch operation when it would deem necessary. In view of the situation in NWA where various militants have coalesced and threat posed by militancy, it is in the best interest of Pakistan to conduct operation. However, considering the internal dynamics of the country, it is important to comprehend that timings and magnitude of the military operation in NWA, if needed, should be decided by Pakistan government and Army. It appears that the US has understood Pakistan’s compulsions, and after Pakistan restored the line of communications and supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, the relations between Pakistan and America have improved. Recently, America has released about US$ 688 million, and it is hoped that America would take more actions to remove the trust deficit that earlier marred the relations between the two countries. America should stop thinking about Pakistan as a problem; given goodwill and trust Pakistan can be a solution to the Afghan problem.