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Bolstering Pakistan

Peace continues to elude this region with India still unwilling to move towards a dialogue that will resolve conflicts and establish a durable peace so that economic development and democratic pluralism can evolve. Instead, India continues to demand a one-issue dialogue on terrorism - and that too within its definitional parameters.

Effectively, India continues to play diplomatic games with Pakistan and we should desist from being drawn in. The Congress Party, with Sonia Gandhi chairing, held a long meeting recently in which the hard line on the dialogue was bolstered and subsequently the accusations that terrorism was still flowing from Pakistan have become more frequent. This is indeed ironic given how there is now ample proof of Indian support for terrorism within Pakistan, especially in Balochistan and FATA.

Given the continuing aggressive posturing of India and its military deployments along the border with Pakistan, Pakistan has to ensure the maintenance of a credible nuclear deterrence.

So it was good news to hear Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani reasserting that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is his government’s top priority - both in terms of sustaining a credible nuclear deterrence and in the field of civilian nuclear energy. However, the Prime Minister needs to show by deeds this vital commitment to the country’s military and civil nuclear programme. We are seeing a part of that commitment, in terms of the military side, being reflected in the principled position taken by Pakistani representative on the issue of a possible fissile material treaty in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Previously, Pakistani diplomats in such forums were hamstrung because of contradictory advice flowing from the present government in its early days. Thankfully, that phase seems to be over and we are back on track. Similarly, so far we do not seem to have yielded to pressure from the US in terms of our nuclear assets, but the large presence

However, in the field of civil nuclear energy, Pakistan needs a more robust approach. It is strange to hear that the US is unaware of our request for a civil nuclear deal similar to the Indian one. Considering that the country's previous leadership and the present one have been crying hoarse on this demand, how come the US has suddenly and conveniently assumed a deaf posture?

Of course, with a bit more honesty, Bush’s Condi Rice had clearly stated that the US would never offer such a deal to Pakistan. So, all the Obama people have to do is to check the institutional record. Unlike in Pakistan, in the US there is institutional memory relating to official deliberations and decisions. Meanwhile, Pakistan should not hold its breath in anticipation; nor is it really in its interests to go into a civilian nuclear deal with the US which will have intrusive costs. Let us continue on the path of self-reliance.

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