India has officially joined the Nuclear Club with the penning of the historical civil agreement on nuclear energy in New Delhi this week. The Indo-US bonhomie is display and it took one American Presidential visit for all of this to materialize. Our status till date was like the barsatis in virtually every Delhi mohallah - unauthorized! And we were not greatly worried either. Afterall in India we are used to the problems of unauthorized development: power cuts, water shortages, queues, bad roads and so on. So why should our nuclear status be any different! While the Indian side has always openly desired a nuclear arsenal of its own as a deterrent against neighbors China and Pakistan, many in the American congress have objected vehemently to India being given any nuclear assistance. A bunch of conservative Republicans have come together to call the Bush administration bipartisan and further compared India to Iran.
Any likeness between India and Iran is baseless and unwarranted. India is a democratic state and it has always used its access to nuclear technology with responsibility. It is Beijing and Islamabad who must take the blame for a booming nuclear black market. It is a well known fact that Beijing fulfilled Pakistan's nuclear aspirations, who further passed on the know-how to nations like Iran. If there is any curb that should be mandated, it is on nation states like Pakistan.
If there was an award for spreading nuclear savoir faire it would go uncontested to Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan and his team. And another award must go to the governments of Pakistan and United States for their assumption that they will be able to pass off the Pakistan-based nuclear smuggling ring as the work of "individual scientists" driven by "personal greed."
Pakistan and its history of its leadership from the armed forces making a mockery of democracy is a menace to the peace process in South Asia. General Musharraf and other Generals before him have on one end aligned with America for political gains but have also made pocket money on the side by selling weapons to nations like Iran. Pakistan's nuclear deals with North Korea, Libya and Iran are well known and bring to focus its irresponsible conduct.
Consider this. Pakistan exchanged uranium enrichment centrifuges for ballistic missiles with N. Korea. Mind you this is not a garage sale we are discussing but technology and weapons worth billions of dollars. Further clandestine nuclear transfers took place out of Pakistan's Kahuta enrichment plant to Iran and Libya as their disclosures to the International Atomic Energy Agency have revealed. A nuclear black-market emerged; designs from one country coupled with centrifuges produced in another shipped via scores of other countries till there is no clarity about the source. The motivation for these deals is money and personal corruption and these are done with the cognizance and connivance of the governments involved.
And we are asked to believe that United States with its all-powerful CIA had no knowledge of the deals. The evidence is so damning that the clemency granted to Khan is unbelievable. Not only did Khan go unpunished, he was allowed to keep his ill-gotten wealth.
The United States must strongly condemn these activities by its ally Pakistan when Mr. Bush visits Islamabad this week. And this condemnation must come independent of its new found friendship and collaboration with India. America must realize that it cannot continue its war on terrorism by allying with a terrorist state itself, which is a threat to the region by following a rogue nuclear program.
Maybe George Bush might want to read The Washington Post on the short flight to Islamabad. The words of his countrymen might be more heartening than mine. The Washington Post today warned that Bush "a lot more credulous than most Pakistanis who have long ago stopped believing the public pledges of a leader who has broken them on more than one occasion. Despite General Musharraf's many promises, Pakistan remains a deeply unstable country where the threat of Islamic extremism is great and growing. Though the General may be a tactical ally of the US against that threat, his refusal to restore democracy in his country has only made it worse. It's time for the US to stop banking on this unreliable General and start planning for the democratic government that should succeed him," it said.