- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pakistan seeks deal

Pakistan is urging Washington to help build up its military to counter massive defense spending by India and talking with the Obama administration about reaching a civilian nuclear power deal like the one President George W. Bush negotiated with New Delhi, according to Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

“India is our main concern, as it is buying weapons worth $100 billion from five countries, including China, and to balance it, our relations with the U.S. are very significant,” Ambassador Husain Haqqani said over the weekend in the Pakistani province of Punjab at a reception hosted by Gov. Salmaan Taseer.

“We have to largely depend upon the U.S. for our defense-related matters,” the ambassador added, according to press reports from Pakistan.

He insisted that Pakistan cannot trust India to keep peace in the region, where the two South Asian rivals have fought three major wars and several lesser conflicts since Pakistan gained its independence from India in 1947.

“We cannot be assured by statements that India will not wage a war against us,” he said.

Mr. Haqqani said Pakistan is engaged in talks with the Obama administration to secure a nuclear energy program like the one Mr. Bush signed with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006.

“Talks between Pakistan and the U.S. for cooperation on atomic [energy] programs are under way, and we want the U.S. to have an agreement with us like the one it had with India on civil nuclear technology,” Mr. Haqqani said.

On Afghanistan, the ambassador said he has urged U.S. officials to promote friendly relations between Kabul and Islamabad before American troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

Lead by example

Congressional leaders remain skeptical of Kazakhstan leading Europe’s main council for the promotion of democracy, while failing to reform its own poor domestic record on human rights.

At a Capitol Hill hearing earlier this month, Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, reminded Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev that his country promised to make major reforms when it was campaigning for the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2007.

“Sadly, I am still waiting for them to live up to that promise,” said Mr. Smith, the senior Republican on the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Commission Chairman Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin noted that Kazakhstan is the first country rated as “not free” by the human rights group, Freedom House, to lead the 56-nation OSCE, which represents countries in Europe and in Eurasia.

“This reality presents unique challenges and opportunities for Kazakhstan, for the United States and for those of us committed to advancing principles of human rights,” the Maryland Democrat said.

Kazakhstan assumed the chairmanship of the OSCE on Jan. 1 and pledged to promote tolerance and transparency during its year-long tenure.

Slip and fall

The new ambassador from Down Under took a tumble in Washington’s blizzard, but, as they say in Australia, “No worries. He’ll be right.”

Kim Beazley slipped on ice outside the ambassador’s residence and was hospitalized for knee surgery. An embassy spokesman last week told reporters that Mr. Beazley would recuperate at home and be back to work soon.

Some readers of Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper were hardly sympathetic. One reader blamed global warming, and another, noting that Mr. Beazley is former leader of the Labor Party, quipped, “I guess there’ll be no more knee-jerk reactions from Kim.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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