Wednesday, February 02, 2005

ANALYSIS: Contradictions in US policy towards Pakistan and South Asia

+ First, in over 50 years, the United States and Pakistan have never been able to align their national security objectives except partially and temporarily. Pakistan’s central goal has been to gain US support to bolster its security against India, whereas the United States has tended to view the relationship from the perspective of its global security interests.+

02/01/2005
Contradictions in US policy towards Pakistan and South Asia

WASHINGTON: A new Report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) says there are long-standing contradictions in US policy towards Pakistan in particular and South Asia in general.

The report – ‘Pakistan’s Nuclear Proliferation Actions and the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission: Policy Constraints and Options’ by Alan Kronstadt, Richard P Cronin and Sharon Squassoni – notes that in calling for a clear, strong, and long-term commitment to support the military-dominated government of Pakistan despite serious concerns about that country’s nuclear proliferation activities, the 9/11 Commission report cast into sharp relief two long-standing contradictions in US policy towards Pakistan and South Asia.

First, in over 50 years, the United States and Pakistan have never been able to align their national security objectives except partially and temporarily. Pakistan’s central goal has been to gain US support to bolster its security against India, whereas the United States has tended to view the relationship from the perspective of its global security interests.

Second, US nuclear non-proliferation objectives towards Pakistan (and India) have been repeatedly subordinated to other US goals. During the 1980s, Pakistan successfully exploited its importance as a conduit for aid to the anti-Soviet Afghan mujahideen to deter the application of US nuclear non-proliferation law, says the report. Not only did Pakistan develop its nuclear weapons capability while receiving some $600 million annually in US military and economic aid, but some of the erstwhile mujahideen came to form the core of Al Qaeda and the Taliban a decade later.

The report takes note of the fact that Congress has endorsed and funded for fiscal 2005 a request from the Bush administration for a new five-year, $3 billion, package of US economic and military assistance to Pakistan. Some members of Congress and policy analysts have expressed concern that once again the United States will be constrained from addressing serious issues concerning Pakistan’s nuclear activities by the need for Islamabad’s help - this time to capture or kill members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

According to the CRS, “A crucial US policy challenge is to gain Pakistani cooperation in shutting down the network of nuclear suppliers established in the 1990s by the self-designated ‘father’ of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, which facilitated illicit sales of nuclear enrichment technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea, while simultaneously supporting stability in Pakistan and maintaining maximum cooperation against terrorism. Press reports indicate that the network is far more extensive than previously thought, and that Pakistan has denied access to Khan, who is now under house arrest, by US intelligence officials.”

The report recounts previous failed efforts to reconcile American nuclear non-proliferation and other policy objectives regarding Pakistan, documents Pakistan’s role in supplying nuclear technology to “rogue” states and how these activities escaped detection by US intelligence agencies, considers issues regarding the objectives, and viability of the government of President Pervez Musharraf, and outlines and evaluates several US options for seeking to gain more credible cooperation from Pakistan’s regarding its nuclear activities while still maintaining its counter-terrorist cooperation. khalid hasan