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Former Pakistani envoys demand nuclear deal from US

September 18, 2009 01:39 IST

A group of former envoys said the partnership between Islamabad and Washington would be fragile if the US did not end "nuclear double standards" and asked US to give Pakistan a civil nuclear deal similar to theĀ  one with India.

In an open letter to President Barack Obama, the former ambassadors warned that if the US "continues to adopt a punitive posture towards Pakistan in the matter of civilian nuclear cooperation and to follow double standards in an area vital for Pakistan's security and economic development", the partnership between the two countries will remain fragile. "We therefore urge you to take the lead in getting Pakistan a waiver from Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines that restrict civilian nuclear cooperation with the country. Such an initiative will help in strengthening trust between our two countries and in generating an environment for enhanced bilateral cooperation," the letter said.

Among those who signed the open letter are former Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, former Foreign Secretaries Riaz Mohammad Khan and Riaz H Khokhar and former envoys Shamshad Ahmad, Asif Ezdi and Saleem Nawaz Khan Gandapur. A fragile partnership between the US and Pakistan will have an "adverse impact" on bilateral cooperation for the peace and stability of the region, it said. More cooperation will enable Pakistan to "play its full role, as a nuclear- weapon state, in the global endeavour to strengthen the non-proliferation regime", it added. The envoys referred to the leading role played by the

US in getting India a NSG waiver that allowed the supply of nuclear plants and fuel as well as dual-use technology. The import of nuclear fuel will enable India to "dedicate more of its scarce uranium resources to producing material for weapons", they claimed.India will get access to advanced nuclear technologies from NSG members that "could be used by it to expand and upgrade its nuclear weapons programme", they added.

"Such a development would be detrimental to regional peace and stability, as well as the global non-proliferation effort, and would directly affect Pakistan's security." The continued denial to Pakistan of atomic technology for power generation will impede its economic development. Pakistan is an energy-deficient country that is not endowed with adequate fossil fuel resources and its potential for hydro-electric power is limited. To meet its power needs, Pakistan needs to exploit other sources of energy like nuclear power, the envoys said.

The envoys also noted that a major reason given by the previous US administration for denying civil nuclear technology to Pakistan was the proliferation activities of the network linked to A Q Khan. The government has since closed all loopholes and there has been no leakage of nuclear technology since then, they said. If Pakistan continues to be denied access to civil nuclear technology on the same terms as India, it "will not be in a position to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, the envoys said.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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