Pakistan losing the America pillar
Pakistan, it was said, was defined by the three As — Allah, Army, and America! It is in serious danger of losing America as pillar to lean on, and without which the dyad of Allah and the Army will render that country even more unstable than it already is. This trend of the US retracting from its blind support of Pakistan may be seen particularly in the views aired by the ranking majority Republican Party and minority Democratic Party in recent Congressional Hearings on a possible nuclear deal with Pakistan along the lines of the one with India.
Members of the sub-committee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in the Hearings held on Dec 8, 2015, were one with the four experts — former Pak ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani and currently at Hudson Institute, Daniel Markey of SAIS, Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Education Center, and George Perkovich of Carnegie called in to testify, in stating plainly that a civilian nuclear deal to insert Pakistan in “the international mainstream” that the Obama Administration is considering (prompted principally by Michael Krepon and his colleagues at the Henry L. Stimson Center) has not a spitball’s chance in hell!
The Congressmen were scathing. Pakistan was called “the only schizophrenic nuclear state” in the world, one that was both confused and confusing the US about its intentions and policies, and described as a “difficult partner” in America’s counter-terrorism and nonproliferation missions. The Chairman of the subcommittee, Poe, went so far as to say that in the Eighties he was called “Pakistan’s man in the Congress” but he thinks he made a mistake then because he said going to Pakistan and interacting with Pak Army officers, who because they “looked like British officers, we believed were not radical!” and that he now thinks Pakistan which was “once a friend is now an enemy”! All of them voiced their anger at Pakistan channeling N-weapons technology to Iran, North Korea and Gaddafi’s Libya, and in the future, possibly to Saudi Arabia, and making a fool of America.
Haqqani was the most outspoken. Time and again he reminded the Congressmen that the US govt’s institutional and instinctive habit of bypassing the civilian authority and dealing directly with the army since 1947 has strengthened the military’s hold on the Pakistani state. And that Congressional conditions on aid to Pakistan were routinely ignored by the US President of the day. Moreover, he was straight forward in saying that all military aid sent by the US, the latest being the F-16s Obama has promised, end up being used solely against India. He was joined by the other three experts in saying NO when they were asked by the sub-committee if the US can anymore “trust” Islamabad not to undermine US interests and discard terrorism as aeapon. He also reminded the American legislators that Islamabad sought a civilian N-deal for the sake of “parity” of treatment and not because it’d buy any power reactors from the US, considering China was supplying all the reactors needed to generate electricity and w/o the onerous conditions that’d attend on a deal with the US. Tellingly, Haqqani likened Pakistan’s desire to be seen as the equal of India to Belgium wanting to be the equal of France and Germany!
But it was also an occasion for Sokolski and Perkovich — both of whom opposed the N-deal with India, to say that if ever there was a civilian N-deal with Pakistan that it will have to meet certain criteria — liking curbing its N-weapons growth and the rate of missile production, the sort of thing they rued was not insisted upon with regard to India.
The Pak embassy must have telegraphed the trending situation, because it had an immediate impact some hours later in the warmth with which Sushma Swaraj, the minister for external affairs, was received by PM Nawaz Sharif, and in the reasonableness the Pakistan Establishment displayed in quickly agreeing to discuss anti-India terrorist outfits, especially the LeT, operating fairly freely in that country, as part of the “comprehensive” talks. The opening to India is important to both the Sharifs — the politician Nawaz and the army chief, Raheel, to counter the impression gaining ground in Washington of an unreconstructed Islamabad bent on making trouble for everyone and, therefore, needing firm handling.