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International Journalists Discuss The Status of U.S. Relations with Pakistan

On the weekly VOA program International Press Club, host Judith Latham talks with international journalists and editors about some significant aspect of foreign affairs particularly with regard to U.S. policy. This week Pakistani journalist Husain Haqqani and Chidanand Rajghatta, foreign editor of the Times of India, discuss the status of U.S. relations with Pakistan.

Husain Haqqani says that the United States and Pakistan have what can be best described as a “quid pro quo” relationship. And right now it’s a good relationship because Pakistan is receiving U.S. economic and military assistance while the United States is getting cooperation in the war on terrorism. But, there are strains in the relationship because Pakistan wants the U.S. government to back it in its confrontation with India, and Washington does not want to get involved.

Mr. Haqqani says Pakistan thinks it has a right to nuclear weapons because India has them, whereas the United States would like Pakistan to become part of some type of international regime of nuclear non-proliferation. Furthermore, Pakistan’s past support of the Taleban in Afghanistan, its support of Islamic militants in Kashmir, its lack of democratic governance, and its unwillingness to reduce the influence of the religious madrassas concern the U.S. administration. Husain Haqqani predicts that, until Pakistan’s political system changes, U.S.-Pakistani relations will be based on convenience rather than on conviction.

Chidanand Rajghatta, Washington bureau chief and foreign editor of the Times of India, says his country views the U.S.-Pakistani relationship with a mixture of skepticism and uncertainty. The sticking point, he explains, is the U.S. supply of offensive arms to Pakistan – especially F-16 fighter planes and P3-C Orion maritime surveillance planes.

Indian officials have said that U.S. plans to supply these sophisticated weapons to Islamabad will cast a shadow on New Delhi’s increasingly close relations with Washington. Mr. Rajghatta also criticizes the United States for its willingness to supply arms to both Pakistan and India, which he says does not contribute to peace in the Asian subcontinent. But he adds, India does appreciate the fact that the U.S. administration has been bearing down on Pakistan with respect to terrorism.

Nonetheless, Washington currently enjoys good relations with both Pakistan and India. And last week negotiators from the two nations completed two days of talks in Islamabad on measures to avoid the possibility of a nuclear war.

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