It is not known when the ongoing war on terror will be over. However, it is known that whenever it is finished, Pakistan may be subjected to certain sanctions related to its nuclear programme. Furthermore, as the delivery system is part of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence strategy, sanctions can also be imposed on Pakistan’s missile testing spree.
After nuclear tests in May 1998, the US (under then President Bill Clinton) invoked, for the first time, Section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) of 1994 famously known as the Glenn Amendment (after the name of former US Senator John Glenn) adopted in 1977 to impose a set of seven sanctions on both Pakistan and India when they, as non-nuclear weapon states, tested their nuclear devices. Amongst them, the main sanctions hitting Pakistan were the suspension of foreign aid (except for humanitarian assistance or food and other agricultural commodities), the termination of sales of any military items and other military assistance, voting against credits or assistance by international financial institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the prohibition of exports of certain dual use goods and technology with civilian and military nuclear applications. The main aims were to compel both the governments of Pakistan and India to do certain things: sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) immediately as non-nuclear states, cooperate in the proposed Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), refrain from deploying and testing missiles and reduce bilateral tensions on various issues including the issue of Kashmir. Besides the G-8 countries (G-7 plus Russia), 14 other countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Denmark and Germany also joined hands in imposing bilateral and institutional economic sanctions (especially in non-humanitarian sectors), including the flow of money from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB), on both Pakistan and India.
For Pakistan, the Glenn Amendment was an improvement over two former amendments considered Pakistan specific. The first was, in 1976, the Symington Amendment (after the name of former US Senator Stuart Symington) to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which called for prohibitions on US economic assistance and military aid to Pakistan if the latter was involved in any kind of nuclear proliferation not governed by international safeguards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Now, Section 101 of the US AECA reflects that amendment. The second was the Pressler Amendment (after the name of former US Senator Lerry Pressler), which called for stopping US economic aid and the sale of military equipment to Pakistan in 1985 if Pakistan possessed a nuclear explosives device. The major effect of this was felt when the delivery of 28 F-16s was denied to Pakistan despite the fact that Pakistan had paid $ 658 million for them. Pakistan has also been denied improvement in F-16s so that it would not carry nuclear weapons. Sanctions that remained lifted during the Afghan war (1979-1989) were imposed on Pakistan under this amendment in 1990.
Within three months (from May to July 1998) certain adverse developments took place. For instance, in the open market, against one US dollar, the Pakistani rupee devalued by 28 percent (from Rs 45 to Rs 63), foreign exchange reserves fell from $ 1,300 million to about $ 500 million, the Karachi Stock Exchange crashed by 34 percent and GDP growth was revised from the expected six percent to three percent for the financial year (1998-99). On the other hand, the effects were less pinching for India because it was not dependent on the US for military and economic help nor was it dependent on international financial institutions. India coped with the crisis better than Pakistan did.
Against this background, Pakistan entered the war on terror, though a little humanitarian relief was provided to it through the Brownback Amendments (after the name of former US Senator Sam Brownback) called the India-Pakistan Relief Act of 1998 and 1999. Furthermore, in September 2001, US President George W Bush lifted sanctions imposed through the Symington, Pressler and Glenn Amendments to make Pakistan (and India) cooperate in the war on terror.
In the post-2001 phase, there have taken place seven major developments: the network of Dr Abdul Qadir Khan is alleged in October 2003 to have been involved in nuclear proliferation, North Korea, which came out of the NPT in 2003, sought the auspices of China and tested a nuclear device in October 2006, the US entered into a nuclear energy deal with India in 2008 approved by the IAEA and seconded by the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) in the same year to allow India access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel from other countries, Pakistan drifted towards China to make a competitive nuclear energy deal outside the ambit of the IAEA and not seconded by the NSG, Pakistan and India entered into a de facto missile testing competition in South Asia, extremism worsened in Pakistan, non-state actors became active and the world perceived the threat of nuclear terrorism, and, on Pakistan, debt liabilities that were $ 36 billion in 2001 rose to $ 65 billion in September 2014.
On the one hand, the ongoing war on terror offers Pakistan the central focus of attention. Conversely, the issues of Pakistan not signing the CTBT and NPT, and not respecting the safeguard protocols given by the IAEA are still there. Secondly, both the Symington Amendment (Section 101 of the AECA) and the Glenn Amendment (Section 102 of the AECA) are still there. Thirdly, Pakistan has been bracketed with North Korea for their defiance and taking refuge under the Chinese umbrella together. Fourth, Pakistan has rebuffed the international consensus expressed through the NSG, though China is a part of the NSG. In short, Pakistan is running out of time and needs to tread carefully.
The writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org