Dawn, January 1st, 2016

ISLAMABAD: A Saudi official met Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif on Thursday for discussing regional security and bilateral defence cooperation.

“Muhammad Bin Abdullah Al-Ayish, Assistant Defence Minister for Military Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, visited General Headquarters today and called on Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif,” the ISPR said in a statement.

“Matters related to regional security and bilateral defence collaboration including training exchanges came under discussion,” it said.

Though ISPR did not clarify which regional security aspect came under discussion, the two countries have been closely coordinating on terrorism.

Pakistan had earlier in December joined the 34-nation counter-terrorism coalition announced by Saudi Arabia, but had said that the decision on the extent of its participation would be taken after receiving details about it from Riyadh. It is speculated that the Saudi official was here for sharing the awaited details on the coalition.

Saudi Arabia is expected to convene a meeting of the coalition partners in January.

Military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, however, denied this and said the discussions instead focused on bilateral cooperation.

Islamabad and Riyadh added another dimension to defence cooperation in October when Pakistan trained Saudi Special Forces in counter-terrorism. Gen Sharif had in November travelled to Saudi Arabia for talks with Saudi King Salman on counter-terrorism cooperation.


Dawn, January 2nd, 2016

QUETTA: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif said on Friday the nation would get rid of terrorism this year.

He was addressing tribal elders of Gwadar, Talar and Turbat areas of Makran division.

“The new year will be the year when terrorism will end,” he said.

Gen Sharif, however, stressed the need for the entire nation to extend support to the armed forces in this regard. He said the “elements involved in the bad practice of financial misappropriation” should also be dealt with strictly.

He said there was a nexus between terrorism, corruption and crime. The elements involved in terrorism and financial corruption had developed close relations to help each other out.

All the “negative forces” in the nexus would be defeated.

The new year would be the “year of national solidarity”, he said. The nation would witness the birth of peace and justice in the year.

“Peace and justice will be ensured across the country with the support of the nation,” he said.

The army chief said that Balochistan would be turned into a peaceful province.

The army would help make the Gwadar seaport fully functional, he said. The port would bring progress and prosperity to the people of Balochistan.

Gen Sharif said: “Pakistan is on way to success and happiness and the people of Balochistan will also benefit from this.”

The armed forces had been rendering great sacrifices for the cause of peace and stability in the country, he said.

Gen Sharif visited Turbat, Talar and Gwadar to review the progress made in the projects undertaken by army engineers as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The army chief was briefed in detail about the law and order situation in Balochistan, particularly in Makran division, and progress made in the ongoing projects.

He was informed that the security situation in the division had improved considerably. He paid rich tribute to army men and personnel of law enforcement agencies who had laid down their lives for security and development of the area.

The army chief expressed satisfaction over the steps being taken for restoration of peace in the division and directed the officials concerned to take stringent measures for the security of engineers and labourers, particularly the Chinese nationals, working on various projects.

While highlighting the importance of the under-construction projects, Gen Sharif said all possible measures would be taken in collaboration with the provincial government to make Gwadar a safe city for local and foreign investors.

Talking to the local elders, he paid tribute to the “proud and valiant people of Balochistan” and thanked them for their unconditional cooperation and support for the development projects.

He underlined the potential of Balochistan as a hub for trade in the region.

He said that completion of the projects was directly linked to the law and order situation and vowed that the armed forces would take all necessary actions to help bring back normalcy in the province.


The News,January 03, 2016 

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

ISLAMABAD: The joint exercises of Pakistan Special Services Group (SSG) and Bahrain National Guard Special Operation Unit (SOU) has concluded successfully in Bahrain. The participants displayed high standard of skill during the exercise.

Lieutenant General Sheikh Muhammad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa National Guard Commander of Bahrain lauded success of the joint exercises (Al-Badar-1) and the high level of professionalism displayed by the special forces of the Bahrain National Guard SOU and the SSG of the Pakistan Army just concluded on Bahrain’s soil. He reminded that high level of coordination and cooperation has displayed the skill of Bahrain National Guard personnel in combating terrorism.

The Bahrain National Guard Commander said that success of participants in achieving the goals set for the exercises has fully augmented the trust of the Bahrain National Guard SOU in its abilities and fighting potential to perform any task assigned to serve the higher purpose of defence of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

According to Bahraini sources Lieutenant General Sheikh Muhammad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Bahrain National Guard Commander said that relationship between Bahrain and Pakistan has strengthened in satisfactory manner over the time especially in the military and security aspects and it has become a model relationship for allied and friendly nations.

The Bahrain National Guard Commander asserted that Bahraini-Pakistani ties have seen great advancements and cooperation in several fields, especially after the visit of King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa to Pakistan that has cemented the strong bonds and tight accord between the two nations in all aspects.



The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2015.

 Fahd Husain

Two heart-wrenching events — 43 years apart — happened on this very date, and shall keep resonating in our collective conscience for a very long time.

Three days from now, this black date will unfold like a recurring nightmare and haunt us back to the sins of the past. But this blood-soaked mark on our calendar will also point to the deep fault lines that persist within the governance structure of Pakistan.

And nothing defines these fault lines more than the billboard slogan and Twitter hashtag #Thank You RaheelSharif.A year on from the tragedy of Army Public School (APS) Peshawar, and a year prior to his scheduled retirement, is General Sharif symbolizing the Pakistani moment more than his civilian namesake?

Therein lies the predicament: what is the Pakistani moment right now? Is it the electoral stability so elusive in the past? Is it the satisfaction of democratic continuity unwrapping itself through another five-year term? Is it the unchallenged supremacy of the PML-N in Punjab and of the MQM in Karachi and the PPP in Sindh established by the local government elections? Is it the train-wreck in slow motion known as the PTI? Or is the Pakistani moment the gradual decimation of the terror networks across the country?

The answer lies somewhere between December 16, 2014 and December 16, 2015 — one digit separating a year of tumult, resolve and endless possibilities. But the answer is also meshed into the moment that has catapulted the two Sharifs onto dizzying heights of power and popularity.

Is General Sharif the most resolute army chief we have seen for a while? Here is a soldier who carries with him a legacy that injects steroid-like credibility into him. Added to this advantage is a series of decisions that have radically changed the Pakistani landscape within a year.

The impression one gets is of a man who broods less and does more. Here, there and everywhere, the general clearly is a man of action, and wants to be seen as such. The blitzkrieg media publicity surrounding him has one glaring — and clearly deliberate — element: he is never heard speaking. In hours and hours of video coverage, the general is hardly ever heard.

No speeches, no interviews, no sound bytes — nothing. His actions are supposed to speak louder than his words. If that be the logic, it seems to be working. The general is seen as a larger-than-life figure driving the country across roadblocks, hurdles and hidden traps.

Is Prime Minister Sharif the most powerful civilian leader we have seen for a while? As he scans the political landscape, he sees nothing except an army of midgets ready to battle him. With one sweep of his hand, he vanquishes them and moves on. He is the undisputed champion of the electoral ring; the man who cannot be defeated.

The local government elections have relegated the PPP and the PTI to their respective provinces, while the other parties — whatever alliance they form — are nothing more to the PML-N than helpful allies or annoying irritants.

Sharif today is the lord master of Punjab and Pakistan. In fact, there is nothing that suggests that he faces any serious threat in the coming years. No civilian in Pakistan has ever enjoyed this type of dominance and supremacy.

Power abhors duality, but this one year has witnessed an uneasy duality persist between the two Sharifs. Left to his own, the prime minister was not willing to declare war on the terrorists. Left to his own, he would have led us into a higher level of dithering, shuffling and vacillating. Left to his own, he would have failed to secure us against this existentialist threat.

But what if some fairy dust had been sprinkled on him, and he had overnight transformed into a wartime leader ready to take on the monster with all his might? And in this scenario, what if he was burdened by an army chief who did not want to go all out against the terrorists? Would the prime minister’s resolve and determination have gotten him — and us — anywhere? Most likely, he would have thundered and bellowed, but the policy would have remained stagnant in the absence of the will of the army chief.

Moral of the story: General Raheel Sharif’s success is embodied both in his person and his office. This infers that the civilian Sharif can only become a resolute wartime leader if he has the army chief completely agreeing with him. The fault line is right here for all to see.

But wait. This may be true for Operation Zarb-e-Azb, but does it also hold equally true for the mess in Karachi? If the prime minister really truly sincerely wanted to clean up Karachi without the help of the army chief, could he? The Rangers report to the interior minister who reports to the prime minister.

Could Nawaz Sharif then, had he wanted to, play the role in Karachi that Raheel Sharif is playing? Could Nawaz Sharif have gone after china cutting, terror funding and politically-garbed target killers? Would he have steamrolled all yelping from opposition parties and slammed into the Karachi mafia like an 18-wheeler truck?

If the answer is in the negative, why is it so? Does he not recognise the moment?

The Pakistani moment is, in fact, not a moment at all; it is a slow process of fulfilling our potential. But doing so means identifying big-ticket critical issues and tackling them head on. These big issues stare us in the face: security, reform, merit, rule of law, education, economy and an inclusive political system designed to bring the best and the brightest to the top.

In such a process, there is no space for political expediency and mutually convenient compromises. General Sharif took the big-ticket issue of security by the horns, and slew the monster. He grabbed the moment and did what the moment required him to do. His responsibility ends there.

If the civilian Sharif can muster up similar resolve to take on the other big-ticket issues, he would become the man we need. There is no doubt that 2015 was the year of #ThankYouRaheelSharif. But if Pakistan has to move forward, the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 should resonate with slogans of #ThankYouNawazSharif.



The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.

Sabina Khan

The peaking interest in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is indeed noteworthy since it coincides with the government making severe economic compromises. As a result of continuously borrowing heavily from theIMF without a repayment plan, the government has been pressured into increasing taxes by Rs40 billion to secure the next $502 million loan payout from the IMF.

Pakistan’s nuclear programme until recently has largely been ignored barring the printing of an occasional speculative doomsday-scenario article. Perhaps, since Pakistan’s economic situation is so heavily reliant on foreign aid, this is seen as an opportune time to exert pressure. However, it should be understood that Pakistan’s nuclear programme cannot be reined in without addressing territorial disputes which necessitate the existence of these weapons in the first place.

The 2005 US-India nuclear deal essentially gave global economies open access to India’s nuclear market and also strengthened India as a counterweight to China. The Bush administration had to resort to threatening countries that had strict non-proliferation regimes in order to gain their support. Many European countries as well as New Zealand faced consequences in their bilateral relations with the US if they had chosen to block India’s exemption in the Nuclear Supplier’s Group. At the same time that the deal was in the works, Narendra Modi was deemed ineligible for a US visa under the 1998 law that holds foreign officials responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom”. Modi, the then chief executive of Gujarat, is the only person ever denied a visa to the US under this provision. In 2002, Modi openly incited religious violence between Muslims and Hindus by allowing the parading of the burnt bodies of Hindu pilgrims, along with supporting a three-day strike called in protest of the Godhra killings. Those three days witnessed mass bloodshed with thousands dead, mainly Muslims. It is surprising that the US and the rest of the world today aren’t raising concerns about nuclear weapons being in the hands of such a person.

The ultimate aim of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether. While that is an idealistic goal, the reality is that countries aren’t rushing to dismantle their arsenals. The US entered into an agreement with India to buy civil nuclear technology, even though India remains outside the treaty. India’s civil nuclear programme is under international inspection but its military programme isn’t.

American officials have consistently told US Congress that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safeguarded, with warheads stored separately from delivery systems along with there being protections to prevent unauthorised access. The main American concern is regarding the development of small tactical nuclear weapons, similar to the ones situated in Europe to deter perceived threats from the USSR during the Cold War. The key purpose of developing such tactical nuclear weapons by Pakistan is to prevent an invasion by India’s significantly larger conventional army.

Recently, the US made some unclear mention of recognising Pakistan as a recipient of nuclear technology in exchange for restrictions on the nuclear programme. However, China is already providing nuclear technology to Pakistan. That leaves little incentive for Pakistan to accept limits on its nuclear weapons, especially since acquiring these weapons has proven to be effective thus far at preventing another all-out war with India. The bottom line is that nuclear weapons can be controlled by resolving outstanding disputes, not by asking one side to give them up altogether.


Dawn, November 21st, 2015

WASHINGTON: Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif has assured Pakistanis here that military operations against terrorists, their backers and financers would continue uninterrupted.

Addressing the Pakis­tani community at a dinner on Thursday, Gen Sharif expressed the “unflinching commitment of the armed forces in ensuring peace and security in the country as well as in countering external threats”.

He said that the operation against terrorists “should have started yesterday” but now that it had started it would continue.

“The armed forces of Pakistan would take the war against terrorism to its logical conclusion and would not let the sacrifices of martyrs go in vain,” he said.

The speech, which was embargoed till Friday morning, also highlighted Pakistan’s commitment to friendly relations with its neighbours “with dignity and honour”.

The stress on dignity and honour earned him a warm applause from the audience who interrupted the speech on several occasions to express their appreciation.

Gen Sharif also noted that Pakistan and the United States had convergence of views on countering the existing and emerging threats. He expressed satisfaction at the upward trajectory and growth in the Pakistan-US defence and counter-terrorism cooperation at this critical juncture.

The army chief said that the American officials he met during his five-day visit to Washington endorsed his assessment that Zarb-i-Azb operation was a success story.

He said that the resilient Pakistani nation was providing unprecedented support to the armed forces that had lost 5,000 uniformed men in this fight, including those from the Rangers and police.

The armed forces, he said, had conducted 12,000 intelligence-based operations in Karachi and KPK and hundreds of militants and their sympathisers had been arrested. “There is no going back now. The operations will continue,” he said. “I see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Gen Sharif said that the Indian intelligence agency RAW was on top of the list of foreign elements that were stirring troubles in Pakistan.

He said that simultaneous with the return of peace and normalcy to the country, the completion of CPEC would herald greater economic prosperity throughout the region.

China, Iran and Afghanistan would also benefit from this project, he added.


Dawn, November 21st, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan remains fully committed to the objectives of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), says Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

During a meeting with the director general of the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Uzumcu, here on Friday, Mr Aziz assured him that Pakistan would remain actively engaged with the OPCW.

Mr Uzumcu visited Pakistan from Nov 18 to 20. It was his second official visit to Pakistan since assumption of office in 2010.

The OPCW chief expressed gratitude for Pakistan’s continued support and its effective implementation of the CWC. He briefed Mr Aziz on the activities of his organisation, particularly emerging challenges in the post-destruction phase.

The adviser appreciated Mr Uzumcu’s leadership in guiding the OPCW towards achieving its objective of elimination of chemical weapons across the globe. He complimented the OPCW on receiving Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

During the visit, Ambassador Uzumcu also held talks with the foreign secretary. He inaugurated the Regional CWC Assistance and Protection Centre and witnessed the proceedings of the advanced international assistance and protection course.

He visited the Chemical Protection Research Laboratory, which has been recently set up by DESTO, the country’s premier chem-bio defence institution.

The OPCW chief delivered a key note address at a seminar on `Achievements of OPCW and its future role in the post-destruction phase’ at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Munir Khan Afridi

BARA: The militancy-affected traders in Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency have asked the government to announce a relief package to help them resume businesses before the reopening of the Bara bazaar.

“At least 20,000 shops and markets were closed down when the security forces launched operation against the Lashkar-i-Islam in 2009,” Anjuman-Tajiran Bara president YarAsgharAfridi told journalists on Monday.

The association’s senior vice-president Bahadur Khan, finance secretary Said Ghaffar, office-bearer from the minorities’ communities Naam Singh and others were present on the occasion.

YarAsgharAfridi thanked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor SardarMahtab Ahmad Khan and Khyber Agency’s Political Agent Syed Shahab Ali Shah for reopening the bazaar and starting development projects there.

He reminded that Bara was a business hub before the military operation.

He said that owing to militancy the traders of Bara had been facing losses for the last six years as their businesses and properties were destroyed.

“The return of all the displaced tribes, except Sipah, to Bara has been completed but every tribesman’s source of income depends on the Bara bazaar because it was main trading centre,” he said.

YarAsgharAfridi added that several non-governmental organizations and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (Smeda) had evinced interest in developing the Bara bazaar but unfortunately the security forces had imposed curfew due to the militants’ activities.

“We have started registration of the local and non-local traders and shopkeepers for the Bara bazaar but the process is being delayed due to reasons best known to the authorities,” he said.

Senior vice president Bahadur Khan said local tribesmen and non-locals were both facing problems and losses in their business.

He said the traders and shopkeepers didn’t have enough money to reconstruct their shops or revive their businesses.

“We have spent all the money we had since the security forces closed down Bara bazaar and launched action against the militants. We had to migrate to safer areas,” he said.

Naam Singh, hailing from the Sikh community, said the businesses and shops of the minorities in the Bara bazaar were also destroyed.

“All the Sikh traders and shopkeepers have suffered losses,” he said. He pointed outthat the Sikhs had at least 600 shops in the Bara bazaar. He added that the minorities, including Sikhs and Hindus, sold properties and shifted their families to the other provinces due to the militancy in Khyber Agency.

Naam Singh asked the government to announce special compensation package for the Sikhs to enable them to resume their business activities in Bara.


The News, Thursday, October 15, 2015

Paul Craig Roberts

Washington’s impulsive use of power is a danger to America and to the world. Arrogant Washington politicians and crazed neoconservatives are screaming that the US must shoot down Russian aircraft that are operating against the US-supplied forces that have brought death and destruction to Syria, unleashing millions of refugees on Europe, in Washington’s effort to overthrow the Syrian government.

Even my former CSIS colleague, Zbigniew Brzezinski, normally a sensible if sometimes misguided person, has written in the Financial Times that Washington should deliver an ultimatum to Russia to “cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets”.

Brzezinski’s claim that “Russia must work with, not against, the US in Syria” is false. The fact of the matter is that “the US must work with, not against Russia in Syria”, as Russia controls the situation, is in accordance with international law, and is doing the right thing.

Ashton Carter, the US Secretary for War, repeats Brzezinski’s demand. He declared that Washington is not prepared to cooperate with Russia’s ‘tragically flawed’ and ‘mistaken strategy’ that frustrates Washington’s illegal attempt to overthrow the Syrian government with military violence.

Washington’s position is that only Washington decides and that Washington intends to unleash yet more chaos on the world in the hope that it reaches Russia.

I guess no one in hubristic and arrogant Washington was listening when Putin said in his UN speech on September 28: “We can no longer tolerate the state of affairs in the world.”

The intolerable state of affairs is the chaos that Washington has brought to the Middle East, chaos that threatens to expand into all countries with Muslim populations, and chaos from which millions of refugees are flooding into Europe.

Not satisfied with threatening Russia with war, Washington is preparing to send US Navy ships inside the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit of islands created by China’s land reclamation project. The Navy Times reports that three Pentagon officials have said on background that “approval of the mission is imminent”. So here we have the US government gratuitously and provocatively threatening two nuclear powers. The Washington warmongers try to pretend that land reclamation is “an act of regional aggression” and that Washington is just upholding international law by protecting “freedom of navigation”.

By ‘freedom of navigation’, Washington means Washington’s ability to control all sea lanes. After all of Washington’s violations of international law and war crimes during the last 14 years, Washington’s claim to be protecting international law is hilarious.

Lt-Gen Michael Flynn, a former director of the US Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s intelligence organization, said that Washington needs to understand that “Russia also has foreign policy; Russia also has a national security strategy” and stop crossing Russia’s ‘red lines’. Gen Flynn thus joins with Patrick J. Buchanan as two voices of sense and sensibility in Washington. Together they stand against the arrogance and hubris that will destroy us.

This article has been excerpted from: ‘The impulsiveness of US power’.



The News International October 25, 2015

Remshay Ahmed

Now that Operation Zarb-e-Azb is reaching its completion, it is time for the Pakistani government to plan out a strategy for the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). When we talk about sustainable economic development, economies are aimed at phasing out a plan that would in theory provide for the present generation in such a way that the demands of the future generations are not compromised in any way — the notion of ‘at least leaving behind as much as the present generation had’.

The first attribute of development — geographic unevenness — implies that governments generally cannot simultaneously foster economic production and spread it out smoothly. Circular causation makes it possible for rising concentrations of economic production to become compatible with geographic convergence in living standards. The market forces of agglomeration, migration and specialisation can yield both a concentration of economic production and a convergence of living standards. The third attribute of neighbourhood effects suggests that spillovers point to the promise for surmounting the handicap of unevenness. Economic integration is an effective and the most realistic way to harness the immediate benefits from concentration to achieve the long-term benefits of convergence.

The idea of sustainable societies arises from the fact that even in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, economic development has been uneven and this has led to massive immigration of people from rural to urban centers. According to the 2014 revision of the World Urbanization Prospects by UN DESA’s Population Division, today about 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas and by 2050 this is expected to increase to 66 per cent. This is expected to have massive repercussions especially for developing countries which are already juggling with meeting the needs of their people, including housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment.

Urban areas are considered as the employment hubs of any country but there is a limit to how much employment can be generated in one city centre for a long time. Ultimately, the growth of slums and illegal housing prove detrimental to the city planning.

JohWilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division, said, “Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda.”

In theory, urbanisation was the main driver for the world economies in achieving MDGs but this has proven to be otherwise. However, glancing at Pakistan’s failure in achieving the 18 accompanying targets indicates a lopsided development in the past 15 years where ill planning of the government is to blame. Of course, it is not always that the government; the ongoing war on terror has exhausted resources of not only the Pakistan government but even of the donor countries. But now that the independent agencies of Fata have been cleared of militants and the areas marked as safe, rehabilitation must come quick with a development agenda that addresses not only the needs of these people but that of the entire country as a whole. And this would come by investing in the rural sector and developing these to decrease future rural-urban migration of people seeking better jobs and healthcare and education facilities elsewhere.

Any economist would argue that the unit cost of investing in rural areas for building infrastructure is relatively higher because of the dispersal of population and the efficiency criterion necessitates investment in urban sector projects. However, this is a static concept and in the long term it is seen that the higher per capita incomes in urban areas creates demand for income elastic products such as milk, dairy products, meat, poultry, fruits and fish. The returns to the farmers on these products are higher than on cereals such as wheat or rice. As the production of these commodities expands, rural incomes rise. Along with remittances from the cities, their demand for consumer goods that are manufactured in the urban areas also rises.

Economic planning deals with understanding the extent of the ripple effects a particular policy would entail. So what might seem to be a high initial cost would actually be self-sufficient in sustaining these new societies in the long run. Small scale industries with low cost technologies can cause the education levels to go up and people can earn better living standards. This was also shown by a research carried out by the International Growth Center with the Lahore School of Economics on developing the football industry in Sialkot. Such small scale industries anywhere in Pakistan when introduced to new technology are readily receptive and capable of developing societies around them.

Understanding the IDPs is an important pre-requisite to integrating them back into society. Here the notion of ‘sustainable societies’ is not only the strongest economically but also socially. Hence in any development agenda, the government and policy makers must sit together and focus on establishing and strengthening societies.


Dawn, October 21st, 2015

IT may be the surest of things in politics: an immediate and strong governmental denial is usually a sign that something is afoot. With Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Washington to meet US President Obama in the White House tomorrow, Pakistani officials have denied that a civilian nuclear deal is being negotiated with the US.

In the small strategic community that works on nuclear issues in Pakistan, however, there is a general insistence that Pakistan fully merits a civilian nuclear deal — but that the terms floated in the US media and analyst community are unlikely to be accepted.

“What the Americans are trying to do is shape how we think about deterrence, but they’re a decade behind in their understanding of how on-ground and operational changes have affected deterrence posture,” said Maria Sultan, director general of the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, which has close ties to the army.

Sultan argued that it is futile to link a civilian nuclear offer — which would potentially give Pakistan access to a global marketplace for nuclear power plants, technology, services and fuel for civilian purposes — to Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence against India because policymakers here would not allow the former to dictate the latter.

The architects of Pakistan’s nuclear policy may refuse to countenance American proposals of any limits — brackets — imposed on Pakistan’s short-range and long-range nuclear options because of the threat the architects perceive from India

As described in The Washington Post and The New York Times, the American proposals centre on Pakistan’s shortest-range missiles — so-called tactical nuclear weapons — and long-range ones.

Earlier this year, Peter Lavoy, a veteran intelligence and Pakistan expert who is reported to be leading the talks on the American side, bluntly catalogued the American concerns.

Moderating a discussion in the US with Khalid Kidwai, the founding director of the Strategic Plans Division, Lavoy said of the Nasr, the so-called battlefield nuke: “We (the US) moved away from them (short-range nuclear-armed missiles) ultimately… because of concerns about the intermingling of conventional forces and nuclear weapons in a battlefield theatre. And one of the concerns… is that this actually makes nuclear war more likely, rather than less likely, having these capabilities.”

On Shaheen-III — with a stated range of 2,750km to reach the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean, India’s farthest outpost — Lavoy offered: “But there’s a political dimension with the Shaheen-III that I think is troubling to the US government, and to many other governments of representatives here in the audience, that now you’ll have the ability to reach many other countries, in the Middle East, for example, that Pakistan didn’t have that capacity in the past.”

Lavoy essentially outlined a two-pronged American approach. One, tactical nuclear weapons create unmanageable and unacceptable risks for any state, while long-range, nuclear-capable Pakistani missiles can potentially destabilise the security calculus of countries in the Middle East.

Two, Pakistan’s deterrence needs against India can be adequately met by intermediate missiles and weapons. It is a radical idea — an attempt, as Maria Sultan dismissed, to make Pakistan’s nuclear policymakers re-think what deterrence ought to mean to Pakistan.

An initial Pakistani rejoinder to the American overtures came via a National Command Authority meeting on Sept 9, ten days after US Secretary of State Susan Rice visited Pakistan to formally invite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the White House and firm up an agenda for the talks this week.

The response? Yes, we’re interested in a deal, but forget about your terms. The reiteration in the ISPR press release of “the national resolve to maintain ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence Capability’” was an explicit rejection of the so-called brackets — limits on extremely short range and very long range missiles — the American proposals are based on.

But in a jargon-filled continuation — replete with references to multilateral export control regimes, NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) and non-discrimination — the NCA emphasised a longstanding Pakistani demand: the normalisation of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and acceptance into the global nuclear order.

“Why do we want it?” a senior security official with direct knowledge of nuclear policy asked of a potential deal with the US, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak publicly. “There are three reasons: socioeconomic, technological and political,” the official said.

The first two reasons are relatively straightforward — but not persuasive to critics. Security officials claims that Pakistan’s energy needs means the country requires nuclear power and it should, if necessary, be able to source power plants from countries other than China. Meanwhile, the industrial complex that is built up around Pakistan’s relatively small but longstanding civilian nuclear infrastructure and scientific community will benefit from access to the latest technology on offer.

According to Naeem Salik, an expert on nuclear issues, access to other countries’ nuclear-power-plant technology could inject some competition into the present monopoly that China enjoys, which provides plants to Pakistan under a so-called grandfathering clause in the global regime that allows for pre-existing commitments to be honoured.

Salik added, “We are not going to build up endlessly,” referring to fissile material and weapons production. “So what about the infrastructure and personnel? They will need to be employed somewhere.”

But with Pakistan’s export capabilities limited and its capacity to import curbed by the prohibitive cost of nuclear technology and equipment, critics are not convinced Pakistan fundamentally seeks a deal for commercial advantage, scientific benefit or future energy needs.

 “I think the issue is not so much Pakistan wanting a nuclear deal with the US like the one that India has, it is Pakistan’s compulsion to see itself and be seen as ‘equal’ to India. Crudely, the Two-Nation-Theory as foreign policy,” according to Zia Mian, a physicist at Princeton University and a peace activist. Nuclear policymakers, however, prefer to emphasise another aspect of the India equation: the concern that Pakistan may forever be left behind.

“If India gets in to the NSG, then we’ll be out,” the senior official said, referring to Nuclear Suppliers Group, an informal cartel of 48 nations that regulates civilian nuclear trade and which operates by consensus. India, as a result of the 2008 Indo-US nuclear deal, was granted a waiver to the NSG and aspires to become a full member of the NSG — once a member, India could block Pakistani entry in perpetuity.”

“It’s legitimacy. Pakistan wants parity with India not just on military terms, but politically and diplomatically. It’s psychological,” NaeemSalik claimed. But policymakers portray the psychological factor differently. “There is a prestige involved in it. Of course there is. There is status too. Why shouldn’t Pakistan take pride in its programme?” the security official asked.

Ultimately, however, India may be the very reason that Pakistan will keep demanding a civil nuclear deal from the US and why the US will be encouraged to keep discussing one with Pakistan. The architects of Pakistan’s nuclear policy may refuse to countenance American proposals of any limits — brackets — imposed on Pakistan’s short-range and long-range nuclear options because of the threat the architects perceive from India.

But because Pakistani nuclear policymakers are concerned that India will be ushered in and Pakistan forever locked out of global nuclear governance and that Pakistan will perpetually be subordinated in the global nuclear order, nuclear policymakers here are not likely to shut the door on talks with the US.