There is a curious article written in the New York Times by its columnist Thomas Friedman. The subject is the recent agreement between India and the United States on the issue of nuclear cooperation.
India has agreed to put 14 of its 22 reactors under international safeguards by the year 2014 while agreeing to decommission its tiny military Cirus Reactor by 2010. The Indian arsenal can draw on its big three reactors now functioning and will also have six other power reactors under its control. Importantly India can build as many military reactors as it wants, since India has not been a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India even now has two fast breeder reactors which won'tcome under international controls and there is going to be no capping on India'sstrategic programmes. The fourteen reactors that will come under international monitoring will be kept under safeguards ?in perpetuity?.
But given the situation as it is, even under the agreement signed with the United States, India can, at least in theory, choose to have one hundred to a thousand nukes. This has become a cause for worry for people like Thomas Friedman, who claims that he has high regard for India, that he ?applauds? President Bush'sdesire to form a deeper partnership with India, only he feels the United States should not go ahead with the nuclear deal already signed ?until India is ready to halt its production of weapons-grade material?.
The fact that India has never sold nuclear secrets to any country, unlike Pakistan, is forgotten. The fact that India is?and has been?under threat from Pakistan is forgotten. Pakistan, as is well known, and as President Bush made it abundantly clear to General Musharraf, a proliferating agent and a determined aggressor. It has waged war against India with the tacit support of the United States. The United States further never scolded Pakistan when it received nuclear secrets from China. Indeed, the entire western world has all these years put India on the defensive. India would be only too happy if all the countries of the world destroy their weapons of mass destruction.
How many nuclear weapons does France have? And the United Kingdom? How many of their plants are under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency? Why did the United States let China leak out nuclear secrets to Pakistan? Why hasn'tthe United States tried that notorious Pakistan nuclear scientist guilty of selling nuclear secrets right and left to all and sundry?and why has it allowed that criminal to be let off easily?
For the best part of five decades all the western powers, led by the United States kept giving Pakistan arms, equipment and economic aid, knowing fully well that they were all going to be used by Pakistan against India. Why are we being compared to Japan? Japan had waged an unrelenting war first against China in the thirties and against the Allies in the forties. Has India waged any war against anybody? It hasn't even attacked Pakistan except when being forced to go on the defensive. India'srecord is clean every which way. Even while pretending to be friends with India, the United States has raised its ante compelling India to divert its scarce resources to defence purposes.
India has all these years borne American antipathy with patience and perseverance. If tomorrow the United States reneges on the deal it has meanwhile struck with India on the specious grounds that US Congress support is not forthcoming, there is nothing that India can do except bear with American hypocrisy as it has done all these years. India has survived over five thousand years of alien attacks on its culture, economy and all the rest and can survive another five thousand years, but it doesn'twant to be lectured to by the likes of Friedman or anyone else for that matter. To suggest that if the US Congress approves the agreement now signed, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will come apart is no argument. Pakistan, as can well be expected, has already started to blackmail the United States by saying that if the United States does not scrap its nuclear deal with India, it will be free to go its way.
Which way? Is it going to let A.Q. Khan loose on an unsuspecting way? Will it go to Beijing to seek help? Will it give aid to Iran to spite the United States which has been its main prop all these decades? Will it try to ditch Washington and become Beijing'ssupplicant? After the manner in which it has acted all these years as a nuclear proliferator does it really think that it has even a leg to stand on? And does it really believe that it can afford to alienate the United States which has been its godfather all these years? Which raises an even more relevant question: Does the United States need Pakistan any longer as a bulwark against an expanding Soviet Union?
The Soviet Union is dead. Russia has no desire to waste its resources on fighting another Cold War. Russia wants no more wars, whether Hot or Cold. Can Pakistan be a bulwark against China? China has no desire to expand or even inflict its ideology?if it has one?on any other nation. It is content with expanding its economy which has been growing and it long ago realised that ideological warfare went out of fashion as an instrument of coercion. And if Musharraf believes he can do without the United States he is living in an unreal world.
Today Musharraf is important to Washington as long as Osama bin Laden is alive and kicking. The day Osama is either captured or killed and Al Qaeda becomes a forgotten name, Pakistan may come to realise that it has no one to depend upon except?and that may not at first be acceptable to the policy-makers in Islamabad?its good neighbour India.
In fact it is India alone that can help Pakistan grow. If it thinks it can depend upon China, it is again living in a make-believe world. True, China has helped Pakistan in the past and may continue to do so in the future as well. But Pakistan'sbest bet is still India. The future beckons to Pakistan to make its peace with its eastern neighbour. After sixty years of unceasing hostilities if it still has not come to realise that war and terrorism against India will take it nowhere, it will only continue its downward slide into the fundamentalist abyss, despised and shunned by all progressive forces in the world. India'sphenomenal rise will continue, Pakistan or no Pakistan.
George Bush told Musharraf as much when he declined even to play a role in settling the Jammu and Kashmir issue. If by now Musharraf has not learnt that Pakistan has no more role to play in world affairs he has learnt nothing. Turn eastward to India for strength and enlightenment, Islamabad. That'swhere the sun is rising.