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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs