American think tank pushes for Pak-US nuke deal
Amid reservations expressed in various quarters about the Sino-Pak civil nuclear deal, a Washington-based think tank has said a similar agreement between the U.S. and Pakistan could be the biggest game-changer in bilateral relations; particularly in Pakistani public perception which presently is anti-American.
In its report 'Pakistan in the Danger Zone: A Tenuous U.S.-Pakistan Relationship', the Atlantic Council of the United States - which was headed by James L. Jones before he took over as President Barack Obama's National Security Adviser - noted that the “biggest game changer in terms of public perception” will be discussion of an energy-oriented civilian nuclear deal with Pakistan.
“That will treat it on par with neighbour India but at the same time begin to draw it into the safeguards network of the International Atomic Energy Agency and thereby dissuade it from any recidivist tendencies toward proliferation,” is the contention of Atlantic Council's South Asia Centre which prepared the report with the help of staff from the International Monetary Fund.
Dwelling on the “tenuous” relationship, the report has noted that Pakistan's government and population saw how the Bush administration sought a long-term relationship with India on the basis of economic and political interests. “In pursuit of that aim, the United States essentially pushed aside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty agenda and offered India a civil nuclear deal while ignoring Pakistan.”
The think tank has also advocated removal of U.S. pressure against the Iran-Pakistan pipeline and hinted at allowing its extension to India as it could be seen as a positive step towards helping America's friends in South Asia.
Released on Monday, the report articulates the step-by-step approach adopted by India and Pakistan last week to bridge the trust deficit: Identify the doables that can be implemented right away while working on the more contentious issues. “The U. S. should also use its new status as a strategic partner of both India and Pakistan to bring the two neighbours together to pick up on the resolution of solvable disputes while reducing tensions on issues that may require more time to mature,” the report has suggested.
The think tank is also of the view that the U.S. and its allies can nudge India and Pakistan to see the importance and great value of open borders, transit trade and economic ties between South Asia, Afghanistan and Central Asia. While Pakistan's geographical location has been its bane - given that each of its provinces shares a boundary with another country - this, according to the South Asia Centre can be turned into an advantage; making what is seen in the West as a failed state a key hub of economic activity in the region and a transit point for energy and trade.
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