New Delhi’s factotum in Washington DC

Sultan M Hali

An article ‘Thank You, President Trump for calling out Pakistan on Terrorism’ written by Larry Pressler has recently been published in “Hindustan Times”. Larry Pressler is a 75 year old pro-Indian Republican politician from South Dakota. He is the architect of the notorious “Pressler Amendment” against Pakistan and author of the controversial book, “Neighbour in Arms” — a book propagating Indian narrative on Pakistan. Writers such as Larry Pressler are backed by the Indian lobby, creating delusions against Pakistan internationally and have become more active since the Trump administration has taken charge of US politics.

On 25th October 2017, a book launch event of Neighbours in Arms: An American Senator’s Quest for Disarmament on Nuclear Subcontinent written by Larry Pressler was organised at the Hudson Institute, Washington DC. The event was moderated by a former Pakistani ambassador to USA and the speaker of the event was the author Larry Pressler himself.

Readers may recall that as chairman of the US Senate’s Arms Control Subcommittee, Larry Pressler advocated the infamous Pressler Amendment, enforced in 1990. Aid and military sales to Pakistan were blocked, including a consignment of F-16 fighter aircraft, changing forever the tenor of the United States relationships with Pakistan and India, and making Pressler a temporary hero throughout India and a devil in Pakistan.

Pressler has long been in Indian caucus and has personally and materially benefited from it. It is therefore no surprise that he wrote a book praising India and condemning its arch rival Pakistan who Pressler had got sanctioned for the same reason that he is now advocating for India i.e. nuclear power. Senator Pressler was a member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange until the NASDAQ purchased it. From 2000 to 2006, Senator Pressler was a member of the Board of Directors of Infosys Technologies, LTD in Bangalore, India. Infosys was a NASDAQ–listed company. Pressler helped Infosys get listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

No country has assisted US in the war of terror with the magnitude that Pakistan did. Pakistan has offered tremendous sacrifices of its security forces and civilians alike to root out terrorism from the region. It is an open secret and needs no emphasis

His book reveals what went on behind the scenes in the years when the Pressler Amendment was in force, through a cast of characters that include presidents, prime ministers, senators and generals in the US, India and Pakistan. It exposes the enormous power wielded by the military industrial complex (MIC), which the author terms “Octopus”, and how it controls significant aspects of the American presence in the Indian subcontinent.

Larry Pressler finds no problem with the fact that the United States spending is more (in absolute numbers) on its military than the next 13 nations combined. At the book launching ceremony, Larry Pressler recommended that the US should declare Pakistan a state sponsoring terrorism. He deemed Pakistan to be a more dangerous country than North Korea. His argument was that Pakistan does not have a clear nuclear chain of command. He went on to float an absurd fictional idea that Pakistani nuclear weapons can be bought for few million dollars. Senator Larry Pressler keeps maligning Pakistan on alleged nuclear proliferation and weak ambiguous chain of command, whereas, his own country i.e. US (so called world’s most conscientious nuclear power) had been proliferating nuclear technology. He can live with Israel’s nuclear program which was acquired clandestinely through US support.

Neighbors in Arms: An American Senator’s Quest for Disarmament on Nuclear Subcontinent is a history of the India-Pakistan nuclear arms build-up, and the efforts of Senator Pressler, via the congressional act known as the “Pressler Amendment” to prevent an “unstable Pakistan” from obtaining nuclear weapons, an effort that ultimately failed. The book details the “constant lies told by Pakistan to the US to cover up the secret development of its nuclear bombs.” He glosses over the fact that subsequent US presidents kept certifying every year that Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons. If Pakistan was not certified, the United States would not provide foreign aid to the country curtailing its usefulness in the Afgan War to stop the USSR invasion. The US invoked the Pressler Amendment as soon as the Red Army withdrew from Afghanistan and Pakistan’s services were no longer required.

Larry Pressler fails to mention why he did not oppose the US waivers to Pakistan for five long years. After all he himself was a powerful US Senator. He does describe the massive, unstoppable coalition of selfish interests in the US among lobbyists, the defense industry and the Pentagon that controls the US national security agenda but fails to admit that he himself was a tentacle of “the Octopus”.

Senator Pressler may also like to focus on US arms sales to Indians. His book is a project of Penguin Random House India and has been purchased by them. Theme and other propaganda material were likely provided by the Indians to Larry Pressler. There is a possibility of RAW financing the book.

The “informed” scholar chooses to remain oblivious to the fact that US and IAEA officials have at a number of occasions acknowledged effective command and control mechanism enforced by Pakistan. Definitely the National Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan has an excellent command and control function and is deemed superior and more transparent than India’s.

Pakistan has substantially strengthened its nuclear security in the past two decades, a fact to which President Obama and the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have repeatedly expressed confidence in the nuclear security arrangements managed by Pakistan. It is relevant to mention that Pakistan is the only nuclear country with zero incidents of nuclear mishap, an achievement even the US cannot boast of. The timing of the release of the book appears to be in consonance with the joint Indo-US policy of subjecting Pakistan to pressure. Larry Pressler’s bias against Pakistan is visible throughout the book.

In the article, ‘Thank You, President Trump for calling out Pakistan on Terrorism’ Pressler welcomed anti-Pakistan stance of Trump calling Pakistan a rogue and terrorist state. He hailed Trump’s latest policy on South Asia and the tweets by him displaying an intimidating position against Pakistan. He thanked Trump for being the first US president to openly attack Pakistan and to identify Pakistan as a liar on the issue of terrorism and also appreciated him for moving US closer to India.

No country has assisted US in the war of terror with the magnitude that Pakistan did. Pakistan has offered tremendous sacrifices of its security forces and civilians alike to root out terrorism from the region. It is an open secret and needs no emphasis. US needs Pakistan if it has to continue its presence in Afghanistan. Peace in Afghanistan is not possible without taking Pakistan on board as a major stake holder.

It is heartening to note that a supporting article “Pakistan Asks Trump to Help Fund Border Fence with Afghanistan” written by Patric Wintour and published in “The Guardian” on 15 February 2018, reflected the summary of his talk with DG ISPR, NSA to PM and Chief Minister Balochistan which were held during his visit to Pakistan.

The plan is part of an effort to show that Pakistan has a plan to ease the Afghan crisis – rather than simply rejecting Trump’s preferred outcome of a military defeat of the Afghan Taliban. According to the article, for more than a decade, the CIA has accused Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence of playing a double game in which it pledges to destroy the Afghan Taliban, but protects its fighters, which it views as a useful proxy to destabilise the Kabul government. The fact is that Pakistan’s sincere efforts for peace in Afghanistan need to be acknowledged.

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