When will We
By Shireen M. Mazari
are a resilient nation, but as a State we never
seem to learn from our history or our mistakes.
So cyclically we see ourselves confronting crises
-- some of which could certainly have either been
avoided or resolved in a timely fashion.
The State also has a proclivity to accommodate,
some would say appease, external players more readily
and often excessively than domestic players. International
developments on the nuclear proliferation issue
are a clear reflection of this. As was stated in
these columns a while back, it will serve little
purpose to undergo a rigorous self-confessional
path and go beyond international legal commitments
in terms of giving access to our old equipment and
so on since we will always be targeted on the nuclear
issue and Dr Khan when we are to be pressured by
the US and its allies -- and there is no ally more
devout than Blair's Britain.
Sure enough, despite all our protestations and accommodation
to international demands on the proliferation issue,
periodically the Dr Khan factor and its suspected
linkages to state functionaries and institutions
comes up. This despite the US itself now having
contravened its NPT obligations by signing the civilian
nuclear deal with India. Meanwhile, we continue
to accommodate some more; but that will only raise
the ante against us since our nuclear assets sit
uncomfortably with the West.
Take the recently released IISS publication from
London, entitled "Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan,
A.Q. Khan and the rise of proliferation networks".
The title itself shows the political bias built
into the study. After all, the insinuation is that
it was Pakistan and Dr Khan that gave birth to the
proliferation networks and nuclear black market.
Yet this is factually incorrect, even by the authors'
own definitional framework where they state that
"in this dossier the term 'nuclear black market'
and '(illicit) nuclear trafficking' denote the trade
in nuclear-related expertise, technologies, components
or material that is being pursued for non-peaceful
purposes and most often by covert or secretive means."
Going by this definition, illicit nuclear trafficking
began from the US and Europe when they chose to
covertly aid Israel's nuclear program. So heavy
water went to Israel illegally and the US continues
to give technological assistance to Israeli nuclear
weapons development. Yet the IISS dossier barely
focuses on this aspect! It is too bad that the IISS
is exploiting its research and academic credibility
to do what is primarily a highly biased, political
work targeting Pakistan, with a few sections only
devoted to the global problem of proliferation.
While Israel is barely cited as a state that was
acquiring clandestine nuclear technology much before
Pakistan even got into the game, India is also spared
despite its known proliferation record in terms
of Iran, Iraq and its own program. In fact, US think
tanks have elaborated on this issue.
The major part of the IISS study is more a project
on Pakistan's nuclear program, various estimates
relating to the number of nukes it possesses, details
of the country's nuclear installations and so on.
Yet the IISS claims that "the subject of this
study is not a single country but the global problem
of proliferation networks and nuclear black markets."
Are we taken to be fools? It would appear so, since
Pakistani officialdom provided a fair amount of
access to IISS personnel -- and this is reflected
in some of the data and tables that they have printed
and acknowledged! Certainly, Pakistani researchers
are never given similar time and access, but that
is another issue.
If one reads the sources cited on the various estimates
of the nuclear weapons we may possess -- Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, SIPRI, Peter
Lavoy and so on, those working on security issues
in this country will realize the access these sources
have always been provided! Of course, to give the
devil its due, the IISS does grudgingly accept that
we now have in place a robust command and control
system and export laws, but that is not sufficient
to satisfy them. They assume, with no proof cited,
that somehow the state or elements within it are
still proliferating despite our stringent controls
and transparent National Command Authority.
Worse follows with claims that Dr Khan and Pakistan
got off lightly. Given that the State of Pakistan
was not the proliferator, unlike the State of India
or France or the USA, why should it be penalized
on any count in the context of nuclear proliferation
especially since in any case Pakistan has never
been a party to the NPT nor has it been asked to
join the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG)? Even Dr
Khan did not break any of Pakistan's international
legal commitments, and one is not sure exactly what
national laws he contravened that would have required
the State to give him harsher penalties than he
Clearly, the dossier seeks to have Pakistan pressured
into giving the West direct access to Dr Khan. In
fact that is one of the options it suggests. So
it is time Pakistan declared, with no ambiguity,
that the issue is definitively over once and for
all. Nor is that all that is being sought from Pakistan.
There is talk of capping of its nuclear program
in exchange for some vague security guarantees from
the US. Who in Pakistan would find these credible
is never examined, of course, since our ruling elites
have historically seemed ever eager to embrace the
There is also the usual talk of "religious
elements" gaining access to our nuclear assets
-- as if Christian, Hindu and Zionist fundamentalists
have never had access, or continue to have access,
to the nuclear trigger in the US, India or Israel?
The timing of the dossier is also politically interesting.
We know the US is trying to fast track a Fissile
Material Control Treaty (FMCT) in the multilateral
disarmament framework in Geneva (the CD), that does
not deal with the issue of verifications or existing
fissile stockpiles. The IISS recommends -- and this
should come as no surprise given the propaganda
tract that the dossier effectively is -- that Pakistan
must be persuaded to accept this FMCT even though
we have made it clear that we have some basic problems
on the principles enshrined in the US version (supported
by India but opposed by China) of the FMCT draft.
So we should expect pressure on that count also
but more on the issue next time.
The question is why we continue to be excessively
open and accommodative to outsiders on sensitive
issues? Worse still, our leaders are ever ready
to make statements, which have tremendous repercussions
on the well-being of the country per se -- rather
than any particular government. Take the latest
statement of Ms Bhutto in an interview with The
Washington Times (28 April 2007). Even the worst
enemies of Pakistan have not attempted to link the
9/11 hijackers to Pakistan. Yet, Ms Bhutto says,
in response to a question on the war on terror:
In 1993 Pakistan was about to be declared a terrorist
state following the first attack on the World Trade
Towers. However, I was elected soon thereafter and
…my government stopped the spread of terrorism.
After my overthrow, the terrorists regained the
upper hand and planned the second attack on the
World Trade Towers.
When will we ever learn? (Courtesy The News)