FORMER three times US senator from South Dakota, Larry Pressler, is not a new name for Pakistanis; for they remember the Amendment bearing his name – Pressler Amendment. It is the same amendment that provided a window for the US to funnel economic and military aid to Pakistan bypassing the Simonton and Glen Amendments (1976, 1977) that banned USA from any economic or military assistance to a country suspected of manufacturing nuclear bombs. The Pressler Amendment incorporated in 1985 stated that “no military or technology equipment to be provided to Pakistan unless the US President certified that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device and that the assistance provided by America would reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan will possess a nuclear explosive device.” Since then painting nuclear Pakistan as a threat to the current world order is part of US strategy.
In March 2017, his book “Neighbour in Arms” published by Random House India further engraved Pressler’s anti Pakistan approach. In the book he has portrayed his efforts in trying to prevent Pakistan from becoming a nuclear power; the reality, however, is the reverse—his amendment allowed the US Presidents to resume aid to Pakistan even when it was an open secret the country was rapidly progressing towards nuclearisation. It allowed the US administration to put Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme on the backburner to pursue its immediate short-term objectives in Afghanistan. The fact a three times US senator who also served two terms in the House of Representative had to find an Indian publisher for his book speaks for itself.
Recently, Hindustan Times has published an article titled, “ Thank you President Trump for calling out Pakistan on Terrorism” written by Larry Pressler. In the article, he 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 U.S. president to openly attack Pakistan and to identify Pakistan as a liar on the issue of terrorism besides appreciating him for moving U.S. closer to India.
At the ripe young age of 75, Pressler is now crying wolf over the danger nuclear Pakistan poses to the world peace. Perhaps this catharsis is a result of his realisation that it was his sponsored amendment which allowed Pakistan to become a nuclear power. If the ex-senator is feeling guilty about his inadvertent role in promoting Pakistan towards becoming a nuclear power, he need not worry—Pakistan would have achieved its nuclear goals and US could have done little to prevent it. Perhaps at the far end of his political career he has succumbed to the Indian lobby spearheaded by the Indian Diaspora in USA and the Indian government.
Mistakes are made by politicians and legislators, sometimes unintentionally and some due to incompetence and hubris. Larry Pressler should admit the follies of his policies as a senator and move on instead of looking for scapegoats to justify his blunders. His political legacy is at best a mediocre one and he should not tarnish it further by becoming an Indian lackey.
Last but not the least, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are strictly meant for its defence only and would only come into play if its core interests are threatened by outside aggression. Without a dint of doubt, it is the nuclear factor that is primarily responsible for preventing another armed conflict between India and Pakistan since the 1971 war. The US administration and India’s lobbying firm in US must understand that any unprovoked military action against Pakistan based on paranoia, misplaced fears and faulty assumptions could have cataclysmic consequences.
The current Pak-U.S. relationship is undoubtedly at the lowest ebb ever, and Trump’s irresponsible statements are making it more and more complex. However, most of the intellectuals around the world believe that this relationship is, “a marriage where divorce is not a possibility” as U.S. needs Pakistan if it has to continue in Afghanistan. However, with the current U.S. administration and lobbyist like Larry possibility of a happy reunion remains suspended.