News / Asia

Pakistan Rebuffed on Civilian Nuclear Deal For Now

Gary Thomas

The announcement the United States and India have ironed out the final details of their nuclear energy deal comes only days after the first  U.S. high-level strategic dialogue with Pakistan, which made clear it too craves a nuclear energy deal.  The Obama administration did not say yes, but it did not say no.

At the heart of the strategic dialogue was overcoming the trust deficit.  Pakistan continues to suspect the United States sees Pakistan as a partner of convenience to be discarded when its aim of defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida is achieved.  

On the U.S. side, there are many in policy circles who question the depth of Pakistan's anti-terrorism commitment.

U.S. Army War College professor Larry Goodson says healing the rift will take time.

"I think it is sort of like marriage counseling, said Larry Goodson. "If you are in a very estranged relationship, but you have determined that you must improve the relationship, you have got to start somewhere.  And perhaps they tell you to start giving flowers every other day or something.  You have got to start thinking more kindly, projecting more optimism.  I do not think that you can improve an estranged relationship by continuing to have a sort of very pessimistic outlook about where it is likely to end up."

Congressional Research Service South Asia analyst Alan Kronstadt says the strategic dialogue showed a new tone.

"What is happening is that we have now more than a year down the road seen the Obama administration behave in some ways differently with Pakistan and arguably has brought some success in that shifted tone and approach to Pakistan," said Alan Kronstadt. "It is mainly about solidifying, attempting to establish a relationship that will eventually feel like it is based on mutual trust.

The Washington meeting was a dialogue, not a negotiation.  But Larry Goodson says Pakistan felt its recent arrests of top Taliban figures, as well as some military action against militant strongholds along the border, was enough to press some advantage.

"Regardless of the motivation for the arrests, it does seem to me to be clear that the Pakistani leadership is trying to leverage the fact of the arrests to sort of strengthen the strategic dialogue, or their bargaining position in the strategic dialogue, " he said.

The U.S. pledged new aid for Pakistan's energy, water, agriculture and educational sectors, and Washington promised to speed up reimbursements owed to Pakistan for counterinsurgency operations.

But what Pakistan really wants is a civilian nuclear power deal similar to the one India got from the United States.  Pakistan suffers from acute energy shortages.  But when asked about the issue by reporters, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton deflected the question.

"We have said that we will listen to and engage with our Pakistani partners on whatever issues the delegation raises," said Hilary Clinton. "We are committed to helping Pakistan meet its real energy needs."

Alan Kronstadt says the Obama administration is offering a more polite response than would have come from the preceding administration.

"It is a change that you acknowledge," he said. "The Bush Administration would usually flatly and patently reject that kind of idea.  But now that we have a relationship that is changing in tone and substance, you do not necessarily strike down a friend's request so abruptly.  So, whether or not it is realistic in the foreseeable future, I think diplomatically we are seeing a change in how the United States responds to that kind of request."

But Larry Goodson suspects something more substantive may in the works behind the scenes, but it will not be the same as India's bargain.

"The press statements out of India's government, and out of Pakistan's government, and out of the American government all seem to suggest that there will not be the same sort of deal," said Goodson. "But that there will be some sort of a deal for Pakistan, probably more of a secret deal or an understanding that does not put them formally on the same level as India, but informally or privately or secretly one that allows them to move forward on this civilian nuclear program."

The technology proliferation of Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan would make it politically difficult to sell the idea of a Pakistan nuclear deal in the United States and in the Nuclear Suppliers Group in Vienna, the multi-national body tasked with controlling nuclear-weapons-related materials.   

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid