‘Indo-Pak civil nuclear cooperation possible’
ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a discussion on ‘Pakistan-India: A Security Route to Cooperation’ agreed on Thursday that civil nuclear cooperation is possible between Pakistan and India as long as it is mutually beneficial.
They were expressing their views at the opening day of a two-day discussion organised by the Strategic Technology Resources (STR).
PML-Q Secretary General Mushahid Hussain Sayed said after the nuclear tests in 1998, there was a view that Pakistan and India should cooperate in the nuclear field. He said in January 2006, the US used political pressure on India to vote against Iran in the IAEA and also to get it to withdraw from the IPI pipeline project. “Pakistan made a strategic mistake by not vociferously objecting to the Indo-US nuclear deal, while Indian government bribed legislators to pass this deal – as this had been documented now,” he added. He regretted that after 9/11, nuclear weapons had become fashionable again. Even states such as France and Britain, who faced no threat, had decided to upgrade their nuclear arsenal, he said.
PAEC former head Parvez Butt said that Pakistan’s energy problems were largely self-created due to mismanagement. Another analyst Subrata Ghoshroy said that Indo-US nuclear deal had less of an energy driven incentive and more of other strategic drivers, like India coming out of nuclear pariah status, the US gaining Indian support for US strategic goals, especially the containment of China, and gaining Indian support in IAEA against Iran. Ghoshroy further said that cooperation between Pakistan and India in energy and water is highly desirable and civil nuclear cooperation is also possible but less feasible as a stand-alone deal.
Dr Shireen Mazari highlighted that civil nuclear cooperation in the power sector between Pakistan and India, as long as it was done under the IAEA umbrella and safeguards, would not require NSG approval since NSG is a supplier carter. “Pakistan and China’s nuclear power cooperation is also subject only to IAEA safeguards,” she said, adding that such cooperation would be on the basis of joint production and could lead to cooperation in nuclear safety and exchange of civil nuclear technology. Dr Mazari suggested that politicians and decision makers should be involved also so that they can open their minds to these ideas and when in power can look beyond ideas given by bureaucrats. Dr Mazari also suggested some proportional number crunching on missiles, especially short-range missiles. Dr Suba Chandran pointed aspects relating to strategic stability from an Indian perspective. He said, “India does not see southern Asia as one holistic region but as containing three distinct regions.”
“Secondly, how Pakistan and India engage in all three regions and how the smaller states of these regions exploit the Pakistan-India and the India-China relationships to their advantage,” he added.
He referred to three issues that could hurt both Pakistan and India in the future – Afghanistan, water and radicalism. Mariana Babar wanted to know how to move things forward beyond ideas floated in Track II. Riaz Khokhar also felt that Track II was limited because decision makers and bureaucrats pay little heed to what is discussed.
Inamul Haque said, “We need a holistic approach not a segmented one. We need to get rid of the mistrust through a ‘triad of peace’ involving three things: conflict resolution; strategic stability to avoid a nuclear arms race, including discussing nuclear doctrines; cooperation between the two countries on all issues, including terrorism, extremism, trade, water related issues, energy and so on.” He concluded the discussion by saying that both Pakistan and India have to talk to each other as equals.