Book launch of “The Blind Eye: US non-proliferation policy towards Pakistan from Ford to Clinton”

The Woodrow Wilson Center, in collaboration with Stimson Center, organized the book launch of Dr. Rabia Akhtar’s book. The session was moderated by Dr. Christian F Osterman (director of Nuclear History Project). The discussants included Hannah Hartland (Stimson Center) and Dr. William Burr (National Security Archives). The event had significant turn up and the participants included researchers, policy makers, academics, students, media, and officials from Pakistani embassy. Dr. Osterman praised the first history of U.S. non-proliferation policy towards Pakistan. He complained that the accounts of Pakistani nuclear policy are based on the declassified documents or archives from the U.S., Europe, and even India.

However, there are no such accounts from Pakistan. Pakistani authorities should learn from this work that there need to be similar resources for researchers in Pakistan so that its side of the story also becomes known. Dr. Rabia opined that in the absence of similar corroboration from the Pakistani side, it remains her own interpretation of history. Pakistan doesn’t have a policy of declassifying documents and several of the personalities involved in Pakistan’s nuclear program have died.

*Brigadier (R) Feroz Hassan Khan had privileged access to interview important personalities that a junior researcher like her doesn’t enjoy*. Pakistan-U.S. relations are only defined in terms of the uneasy periods. *No one talks about the times where this relationship has been mutually beneficial*. All the U.S. administrations developed a quid pro quo of aid against non-proliferation guarantees, with the underlying understanding that Pakistan would not embarrass the U.S. *The A. Q. Khan story had started around 1974. The U.S. had intelligence reports on his activities all along but this information was only made public in 2004 once it was most favorable for them to arm-twist Pakistan.*

*Similarly, the U.S. had information on Pak-China nuclear cooperation and DPRK – Pakistan missile linkages. However, the U.S. did not make these public until late opportune times.* Had there been no Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan would have still developed nuclear weapons owing to its genuine security concerns vis-à-vis India, but the timeliness could have been different. The U.S. remained dismissive of Pakistan’s threat perception and did not provide the security guarantees that Pakistan sought.

*The non-proliferation amendments were designed around the good-cop bad-cop concept with built-in room for waivers to facilitate Pakistan in return for cooperation*. Pakistanis can be seen as liar or hypocritical but it was more of Machiavellian realism at play, where it was ensuring that its national security requirements were fulfilled. Pakistan has no reasons to be apologetic for its actions. *None of this would have been possible without U.S. Patronage*. Hannah Haegland opined that the book was equally relevant for not just academia and researchers but also for policy makers. This work provides an interesting case-study of how outsiders can study the U.S. system and dexterously work it to their advantage.

*If the U.S. can understand DPRK’s motivations for going nuclear, it should also be able acknowledge Pakistan’s security concerns*. Note: instead of comparison with DPRK, she could draw a simile with India. The most exempted state*. There are several misunderstandings between the Pakistani and the U.S. strategic communities, which need to be resolved.

Complaints about the U.S. double standards are divisive. Such complaints are poorly received here because of *the distinction between vertical and horizontal proliferation since A. Q. Khan’s actions were leading up to the latter*. Note: now the *U.S. and India plus eleven other Indian suitors are involved in Horizontal Proliferation i.e. state to state proliferation in violation of NPT. It’s distinct from Nuclear Black market case because non-State actors were involved there…A NSG waiver to India means nothing!*

Dr. Burr commented that A. Q. Khan’s activities were also in some ways serving Pakistan’s national security objectives (reference to his procurements for Pakistan). The U.S. Administrations continued to hide things from the Congress. The *U.S. wanted to balance between non-proliferation and security objectives but security concerns were generally given preference*. At some instances, *the U.S. eye stayed blind officially even though they had irrefutable information on Pakistan’s proliferation activities*. Pakistan’s uranium enrichment program largely remained out of the U.S.’ vision and it grossly underestimated Pakistan’s determination. In response to a question about the extent of cooperation that Pakistan received from China in its nuclear weapons program, Dr. Rabia referred to Brig (R) Feroz Hassan Khan’s work but stated that the extent remain unknown and is likely to remain so.

In response to a *question by VoA correspondent, if there should be more scrutiny on Pakistan’s nuclear program*, Dr. Rabia asserted that *Pakistan doesn’t require any international scrutiny. Pakistan is a nuclear weapon state with a robust nuclear command and control, has credibly demonstrated it’s nuclear capability, and remains engaged with relevant international organizations like the IAEA.

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