The Cable

Private Pakistani delegation lands in Washington

A Pakistani delegation representing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is in Washington this week to deliver its report to D.C. academics, think tankers, and officials. The mission is to inform American policymakers on the Pakistani perspective on a range of issues prominent in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, including the impact of the Kerry-Lugar ...

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A Pakistani delegation representing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs is in Washington this week to deliver its report to D.C. academics, think tankers, and officials. The mission is to inform American policymakers on the Pakistani perspective on a range of issues prominent in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, including the impact of the Kerry-Lugar aid bill, nuclear stability, and the ongoing problems of terrorism and insurgency.

The delegation is composed of several senior Pakistani policymakers and former officials, including retired Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, a former secretary for defense production, retired Maj. Gen. Mahmud Durrani, former national security advisor and the previous ambassador to the U.S. (shown at left in 2008 with Sen. John Kerry and Pakistani Foreign Minster Shah Mehmood Qureshi), Ambassador Aziz Ahmed Khan, a former envoy to India and former ambassador to Afghanistan, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a lawyer representing clients before the Supreme Court of Pakistan who appeared in the A.Q. Khan case, and Ejaz Haider, op-ed editor for Pakistan’s Daily Times.

Pugwash, which won the Nobel Prize in 1995, has a mission to foster dialogue in the hopes of “reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems.” Toward that end, here are some excerpts of the report on Pakistani views and attitudes they are presenting around town:

On the U.S.-Pakistan relationship:

There is widespread resentment in Pakistan toward the U.S.; Pakistanis are cognizant that the lack of trust is mutual. At the root of this resentment is the U.S. role in the Afghan Jihad… There is skepticism about the way in which [the] U.S. is conducting its campaign in Afghanistan… The perception is that U.S. heavy handedness has dictated Pakistan’s policy and it has often not been in Pakistan’s own interests. The problems of the insurgency in Pakistan are deemed to be distinct from the corresponding problems in Afghanistan. Pakistan wants to decide itself how to deal with the insurgency in its own territory and what its priorities should be.

The U.S.’ view of itself as a domestic player in [Pakistan’s] internal politics, especially its perceived influence on successive Pakistani governments is not welcomed. Excessive visibility to U.S. official presence in Pakistan is received equally negatively… There is a general perception that Pakistan’s portrayal in the U.S. media and popular discourse is exceptionally negative… It is believed that U.S. officials understand Pakistan’s concerns but often turn a blind eye to the negative publicity Islamabad receives as a means to maintain pressure on Pakistan.

On President Obama’s Af-Pak strategy:

The Af-Pak terminology is disliked and has received strong criticism across Pakistan. The Pakistani intelligentsia is not pleased with a de-hyphenation of the Indo-Pak equation and the hyphenation of the Pak-Afghan calculus. The issue is not only one of national pride; there is a genuine concern among the strategic enclave that the permanence of the threat from India has not eroded.,, There is objectively no interest for Pakistan to be fully involved in what is happening outside its borders, namely in Afghanistan.

On the Pakistani government’s relationship with extremists:

Compromises with the Taliban and the militants in general are possible, provided that the end result is improvement of living conditions for the civilians. A generalized military confrontation is not the solution according to most Pakistan experts… This points to the need for effective military operations, for a distinction to be drawn between different militant outfits, and to deal with different policy measures depending on the group in question. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not the same entity and Pakistani policy makers insist on a distinction here.

On the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons:

The reality of the matter is that all nuclear weapons (irrespective of the country possessing them) are intrinsically insecure. In comparative terms, why should Pakistani nuclear weapons be more insecure than others?… Pakistani nuclear weapons are India-specific, namely they are an answer to India’s nuclear arsenal. Anything like the deployment of Indian Ballistic Missile Defense systems or expansion of the Indian nuclear weapons program will destabilize the situation… The nuclear issue has to be dealt with regionally, with India taking the lead.

A perception has developed that the U.S. may prepare contingency plans to take out the Pakistani nuclear weapons. The reluctance on the part of the U.S. to deny such plans is problematic.

 FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images

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