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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora