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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid