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Acknowledge Pak is N-power, Obama told

Source: PTI
April 05, 2009 21:54 IST
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The Obama Administration should encourage the Indo-Pak dialogue, including back-channel diplomacy on Kashmir, and acknowledge Islamabad's nuclear status, a task force formed by US-based Asia Society has suggested in comments which may raise hackles in India.

The independent task force set up last year included Richard Holbrooke, the Special US Representatives for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and General James Jones, National Security Advisor. But both of them stepped down from the task force before the first draft was written, and as such they are not associated with the report, it says.

Co-chaired by Thomas Pickering (Ambassador to India 1992-93) and strategic expert Barnett Rubin, the report 'A Strategy for Stabilising Afghanistan-Pakistan' gains significance given that the tone and tenor of this 50-page document echoes that of the Obama Administration officials.

This has been reflected in the statements made by them even during Congressional hearing in the past two weeks.

"The United States should continue to encourage Pakistan and India to build on their existing composite dialogue to normalise their relations, including their behind-the-scenes efforts to deescalate tensions over Kashmir and find a lasting settlement to this dispute," the report said.

"These efforts are especially important given the history of three wars and several crises between these two nuclear weapons states. Moreover, Kashmir has provided the rationale for decades for support of guerrilla and terrorist operations by groups based in Pakistan that have escaped the control of the state apparatus that established and protected them," the task force said.

The independent task force, which prepared this report, recommended that the Obama Administration should seek ways to incorporate Pakistan into global nuclear non-proliferation regime and enter into a dialogue with it to discuss how its nuclear status could be acknowledged.

It took note of a 2005 statement by International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei that "India, Pakistan and Israel, in my view, are not going to come to the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) through the normal route."

ElBaradei suggested accepting that India and Pakistan are declared nuclear weapons states as a fact and endorsed the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement as a way to bring a declared nuclear state closer to the NPT.

"Under existing circumstances (especially given concerns over terrorism and proliferation), it is not possible to duplicate that agreement with Pakistan," the report noted.

"But it is worth starting a dialogue with Pakistan to explore what might be possible, and under what conditions, to acknowledge Pakistan's nuclear weapons status, provide assistance to ensure the safety and security of its nuclear assets, and bring Pakistan into greater conformity and closer cooperation with the global non-proliferation regime," the task force said.

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