Notwithstanding India's reservations, the US said on Tuesday that it would "consider" Pakistan's request for a civil nuclear deal as it wanted to help the country meet its immediate and long-term energy needs. Ahead of the crucial bilateral strategic dialogue between the US and Pakistan on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that the issue of energy would be one of the subjects of discussion but refused to pre-judge the outcome of the talks.
"I am sure that's going to be raised and we are going to be considering it but I can't pre-judge or pre-empt what the outcome of our discussions will be," Clinton said when asked whether Pakistan can have a civil nuclear deal with the US similar to the one Washington has with India. "On the energy issues specifically there are more immediate steps that could be taken. We want to help Pakistan with an immediate and long term needs," Clinton told Pakistan's Express TV in an interview.
Ever since the US signed the nuclear deal with India, Pakistan has been repeatedly seeking similar cooperation. However, the previous Bush administration had refused to entertain the request arguing that the non-proliferation records of India and Pakistan were not comparable. The first indications of US' willingness to discuss civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan came two days back from US Ambassador to Islamabad Anne Patterson who said that America's non-proliferation concerns were beginning to pass and nuclear cooperation is a scenario that can be explored.
India has voiced unhappiness over such moves and has asked the US to keep in mind Pakistan's track record of clandestine nuclear proliferation. New Delhi has underlined that the right balance has to be struck between meeting energy needs of a country and the track record of that state. India points to the clandestine proliferation network run by the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme A Q Khan which is believed to have provided nuclear technology and material to countries like North Korea and Syria.