Pak-U.S. nuclear deal long way off

08:52, March 29, 2010      

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The desirous Pakistan-U.S. civil nuclear deal is still out of reach for Pakistan though it is a non-NATO ally of America in "war on terror."

Responding to questions by journalists on his return from Washington, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Memood Qureshi said here Sunday that the issue of civil nuclear deal with the United States has yet to be further discussed in April when he goes for an international conference on nuclear disarmament and non- proliferation.

"However stressing too much on certain issues would not be in national interest," said Qureshi.

The foreign minister, after attending the most awaited Pak-U.S. strategic dialogue in Washington, said that his week-long visit was very successful and this time no "do more" was heard in his meetings with U.S. officials.

He said that response of U.S. officials was so positive and all long awaited issues were discussed in a friendly environment.

Qureshi said that Pakistan sensitivity was taken into account, U.S. agreed to review the decision of body scanning, in near future a breakthrough is expected in connection to drone technology.

He claimed that trust is restored between the two countries.

Qureshi said that U.S. accepted Pakistan's needs and assistance on several sectoral issues was agreed. Free access to western market, agriculture, defense and several other issues were also discussed.

In Washington, the Pakistani delegation led by Qureshi presented its necessities to U.S. officials. Coalition Support Fund hanging for long will be received next month, he said.

However, Qureshi declined to clearly say as how much money would be received in this connection. Washington vowed to provide 125 million U.S. dollars for projects relating to energy in Pakistan, he said.

It also promised assistance for infrastructure, education, agriculture security, food security, social sector, development and others in Pakistan, Qureshi told journalists but said nothing clearly about the nuclear deal with Pakistan.

No doubt this time America was comparatively friendly to Pakistan but the wish of the latter for nuclear deal is still a dream.

Among the important matters the issue of civil nuclear deal was essential for Pakistan. Analysts in Pakistan maintain that the U.S. is not willing to accept the demand of Pakistan for civil nuclear deal though Pakistan is facing power shortage for long and it has been curtailing its capability of economic and industrial growth.

Dr. Riffat Hussain, prominent analysts and Chairman of Defense and Strategic Studied at Quaid-e-Azam University, told Xinhua that he sees no possibility of nuclear deal between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Hussain said that such a deal would need support in the U.S. congress and that is very difficult. Such a deal with India was signed after 7-year-long effort, he added.

Analyst Lieutenant General (Retired) Talat Masood told Xinhua that at this stage expecting a civil nuclear deal between Pakistan and U.S. is unrealistic as U.S. President Barack Obama, propagating nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, is going to attend the conference on nuclear security next month.

Pakistan's record in connection to nuclear proliferation was damaged in the near past but the blame against Pakistan is now diminishing gradually, he added.

However, he also ruled out any such deal in near future and said that a final deal in this connection could take 10 to 15 years.

Pakistani Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit told Xinhua that a civil nuclear deal with the United States among other options for addressing the chronic energy crises in Pakistan is still on agenda.

When asked whether U.S. would agree to give favor to Pakistan in this connection, he replied with vague answer saying, "Nothing could be ruled out and we can hope for it in future."

Basit said that for solving the problem of energy crises in Pakistan immediately other options were considered and U.S. would assist Pakistan in improving capacities in hydro powers, wind energy projects, and others.

Source: Xinhua
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