Saturday, August 14, 2004

MENAFN - US Lawmakers want more control over Pakistan

MENAFN - Middle East North Africa . Financial Network: "Lawmakers want more control over Pakistan


Date: Friday, August 13, 2004 7:05:19 PM EST By ANWAR IQBAL, UPI South Asian Affairs Analyst

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Some U.S. lawmakers, not happy with the Bush administration's leniency in dealing with Pakistan, are urging Washington to tighten its control over Islamabad's nuclear program.

Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives referred to its committee on international relations a new bill that would place Pakistan in a difficult position over nuclear issues.

The nuclear Black Market Elimination Act, introduced in the House by Rep Tom Lantos, D-Calif., earlier this week, "seeks to impose sanctions on foreign entities that engage in certain nuclear proliferation activities."

Like Lantos, his co-sponsors, Rep. Gary L Ackerman, D-N.Y., Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., are all active participants in debates on South Asian issues, often supporting India on its disputes with Pakistan.

The proposed law specifically calls for sanctions against Pakistan if it fails to get a clean chit from the U.S. president on the nuclear issue.

The United States has opposed Pakistan's nuclear development since 1974, when India tested its first nuclear device spurring Pakistan to match India's nuclear program.

But U.S. pressure on Pakistan eased in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied neighboring Afghanistan. During the 10-year war (1979-89) against the Soviets, Pakistan served as conduit for weapons for Afghan guerrillas fighting the Russians.

Pakistan also provided training and launching facilities to Afghan rebels and sheltered more than 3 million refugees from Afghanistan. But in 1990, less than a year after the Afghan war ended, the United States introduced strict sanctions on Pakistan under a Pakistan-specific law called the Pressler Amendment.

The sanctions were removed again in 2001 when Pakistan joined the U.S.-led "war against terrorism" after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

But in February this year -- following an intensive investigation by U.S. and British intelligence agencies -- Pakistan's now disgraced nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, confessed to secretly selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Explaining the operation, Vice President Dick Cheney told a recent election rally: "We knew ... through intelligence sources ... that a man named A.Q. Khan ... had developed the Pakistan nuclear weapons program, (and) after he'd finished that work for Pakistan, had then gone into business for himself.

"He was selling nuclear weapons technology to some of the worst regimes in the world -- the North Koreans, the Iranians and the Libyans, in particular. Moammar Gadhafi, in Libya, was one of his best customers," said Cheney.

Pakistan detained Khan but instead of putting him in the jail, Pakistanis authorities put Khan under house arrest. Khan enjoys a celebrity status in Pakistan as the father of the country's nuclear bomb and Pakistani authorities feared that putting him in the jail could hurt the government.

The U.S. government defended the Pakistani decision, saying that it was getting from Pakistan whatever information it needed to unravel Khan's network.

And earlier this week, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz indicated that the United States may not want to re-introduce sanctions against Pakistan since previously since such a move previously pushed Pakistan into the arms of Islamist militants rather than promoting U.S. interests.

"In a country where the military is one of the most important institutions, the United States severed the contact between our military and their military," Wolfowitz told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

Wolfowitz said he did not disagree with the U.S. policy of using economic assistance to push for change, "but you don't promote military reform in a country like Pakistan by cutting off education for Pakistani military officers here and pushing them into the one alternative, which is the Islamic extremists."

"It's not as though if we leave them alone, nobody else will go out to recruit them," he warned the U.S. policymakers.

The Bush administration, he said, realized the importance of restoring relations with Pakistan and increased U.S. assistance to Islamabad from $4 million in 2000 to $700 million requested for the next fiscal year.

But it this economic package -- $3 billion over a period of five years starting in 2003 -- that concerns the lawmaker pushing for new restrictions against Pakistan.

The bill they proposed says that before providing any financial help Islamabad in future, the U.S. president must make sure that Pakistan is fully sharing all information pertaining to Khan's proliferation network, besides providing full access to the scientist and his associates.

The bill also seeks proximity to any documentation, declarations, affidavits or other material that bears upon their proliferation network activities and contacts.

It requires the president to certify to the appropriate congressional committees that Pakistan has verifiably halted any cooperation with any state in the development of nuclear or missile technology. He would also have to affirm that Pakistan is not providing or exporting any material, equipment or technology that is useful for the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Not later than 30 days after the enactment of this act, the president would have to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees, identifying any country that might have benefited from the Khan network.

Under the bill, the president would not be allowed to provide, in any fiscal year, more than 75 percent of U.S. assistance to Pakistan without issuing the required certification about the activities and impact of Khan's proliferation.

As in the Pressler Amendment, there is waiver authority in the proposed law. Under this provision, the president could certify to the appropriate congressional committees that waiving the required restrictions on Pakistan is in the vital interest of the U.S. national security. However, the president could not use the waiver in two successive fiscal years.

While issuing a waiver, the U.S. president could make the case that Pakistan's lack of cooperation is not significantly hindering U.S. efforts to investigate and eliminate the Khan network and any successor networks.

The bill would require the secretary of state to brief the appropriate congressional committees on the degree to which Pakistan has or has not satisfied the stipulated conditions.

It also would stipulate that the U.S. president would have to suspend all licenses for selling U.S. weapons to a country deemed to have received assistance from the Khan network.

A specific provision could also prevent Pakistan from receiving the benefits of a major non-NATO ally -- a status conferred on Pakistan two months ago -- which allows Islamabad to acquire excess defense equipment from the United States. It says that the United States may not transfer such "materials" to a country that has not provided written assurances that it will support and assist U.S. efforts to interdict items of proliferation concern."

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