News

USIS Washington 
File




12 October 1999


 

Defense Department Report, Tuesday, October 12

(Pakistan situation) (610)

CURRENT INSTABILITY IN PAKISTAN UNDERSCORES NEED FOR CTBT

The current instability in the government of Pakistan underscores the
Clinton administration's concerns about the proliferation of nuclear
weapons, the Defense Department said October 12. Spokesman Ken Bacon
said that according to news reports, the Pakistan situation arose when
the prime minister attempted to replace the army chief of staff with a
person of his own choosing. This move "triggered a response by the
military," he said.

Asked at the regular Tuesday Pentagon briefing about the situation,
the spokesman said that while the United States does not "have a clear
view of what's going on in Islamabad right now...it does underscore
the need for treaties like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
that would, if in effect, make it more difficult for countries to
develop nuclear weapons."

Pakistan has not signed the treaty, he continued, "but both India and
Pakistan have indicated that they could in the future perhaps sign the
treaty, and that would be good because it would make the further
development of nuclear weapons more difficult if they cannot test
them."

It would have been better if they had signed the treaty before they
tested nuclear weapons, Bacon said, adding "It's widely expected that
if the leading nuclear power in the world refused to ratify the
treaty, that there would be little incentive for other countries to
ratify the treaty."

The spokesman said there are "very limited military-to-military
relationships between the U.S. and Pakistan," the primary reason being
its nuclear program. "In 1990 U.S. military assistance to Pakistan was
cut off under the so-called Pressler Amendment, which required the
president to certify that Pakistan was not working to develop a
nuclear device. President Bush felt that he could not certify that in
1990, he said.

There were other contacts with Pakistan that continued, principally in
the counter-narcotics area, he said, but the standard
military-to-military transactions have not been occurring for about
the past nine years.

Following the nuclear test in May of 1998, he said, "there was at one
point congressional discussion about restarting the IMET (military
training) program on the theory that we needed to establish
relationships between the United States and Pakistani military in
order to get to know them better and to...establish paths for working
with them on a variety of issues such as confidence-building measures.
But that never took place."

However, he continued, "General Anthony Zinni, commander-in-chief of
the Central Command, has been to Pakistan several times to discuss
nuclear issues, the need to subscribe to the test ban treaty, and also
to try to find ways to reduce tensions in Kashmir."

It is "very clear," Bacon said, that the United States does have some
common concerns with Pakistan. "One is counter-narcotics; one is
terrorism in Afghanistan, perhaps connected with the Taliban and other
forces in Afghanistan. So there are reasons for us to have a dialogue
with Pakistan." He added that there is no reason to believe the
Pakistani military would "be lax on counter-terrorism."

He reminded reporters that Pakistan was "very helpful during the
Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1970's....So we have had
a long strategic relationship with Pakistan over the years. It has
been complicated from time to time...by their nuclear program, and
also by the fact that Pakistan does have a history of military
government."

For almost half of Pakistan's nearly half century of statehood, it has
been governed by the military, he said.

Bacon stressed that the United States does not yet know the details of
the situation in Pakistan and is awaiting clarification from Pakistan.