Washington: Pursuing a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan is not only unrealistic, poorly timed, and unwise, but also counterproductive to the US’ national interest in the near term, a leading South Asia expert on terrorism has told American lawmakers.
“My concern is that by turning senior-level attention to a nuclear deal, Washington sends a wrong and counterproductive message to Pakistan, as we have many times in the past,” Daniel Markey, a senior research professor in international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies has said.
In prepared remarks submitted ahead of a Congressional hearing on ‘Civil Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan: Prospects and Consequences’ Markey said the US is likely to come across as distracted, unable to set and maintain priorities, and suffering from unfounded expectations.
“This leads to my conclusion that pursuing a nuclear deal with Pakistan now is unrealistic, poorly timed, and unwise,” Markey said, according to his prepared statement submitted to the terrorism, nonproliferation, and trade subcommittee of the committee on foreign affairs.
“A nuclear deal of the sort apparently being discussed with Pakistan is hardly the ‘blockbuster’ that some commentators in the media would have us believe.
Even so, it is still poorly timed and, if pursued further, would be more likely to prove counterproductive to other near term US security interests than deliver significant benefits,”he said.
Markey argued that even if Pakistan were to take incremental steps to limit the future growth of its nuclear programme, it would be insufficient for the US to become a champion of Pakistan’s membership in the NSG.
Limiting future nuclear growth would do too little to address Washington’s most pressing concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which would still pose serious threats, including insider theft, onward proliferation, accident, sabotage, or unauthorised use.
Further, there is no indication that Pakistan’s military leadership is inclined to place voluntary limits on the growth of its nuclear arsenal.
That arsenal has always been justified as a deterrent against Indian aggression. And India-Pakistan relations are stuck in hostility, he said.
Notably both Pakistan and the US have refuted media reports that they are in any kind of talks for an India-type civil nuclear deal.
Markey said the nuclear discussion shifts attention away from the underlying causes of American anxiety with Pakistan and the greatest stumbling blocks to effective partnership between Washington and Islamabad.
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