U.S. Department of State, Deputy Secretary Talbott, Address at the Institute of Strategic Studies, "Pakistan, the U.S., and the Quest for Common Ground" Islamabad, Pakistan, February 2, 1999


Thank you, Ambassador Khan, for that kind introduction, and thanks to
all of you for making my colleagues and me feel so welcome. I will be
brief, in order to leave maximum time for give-and-take.

But first, let me introduce my traveling companions: General Joe
Ralston, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Rick
Inderfurth, our Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia; Gary
Samore, Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National
Security Council staff; Bob Einhorn, the senior non-proliferation
specialist of the State Department; Matt Daley of our South Asia
Bureau; and Karen Mathiasen, Director of the South and Central Asia
office at the Department of the Treasury.

The depth and diversity of our team reflects the wide range of issues
that the U.S. and Pakistan are addressing together -- or perhaps I
should say, the wide range of issues that we ought to be addressing
together, if we were tilling together the vast territory of interests
we have in common. Regrettably, however, we are not doing so; much of
our common ground lies fallow.

When my colleagues and I sat down with Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad
and his superb team at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier today
for the eighth round of a dialogue we have been conducting since last
June, we concentrated, yet again, on one topic far more than any other.
You all know what that topic is: nuclear weaponry, ballistic missiles
and their saliency to international life on the eve of the 21st
century.

Important -- indeed, momentous -- as that subject is, we in Washington
feel that a dialogue confined to non-proliferation does not do justice
either to the rich history or to the vast potential of U.S.-Pakistani
relations.  I sense that same frustration is felt here in Islamabad.

Nor did this preoccupation arise for the first time last May. Almost
exactly 5 years ago, in February 1994, when I became Deputy Secretary
of State, President Clinton asked me to make Pakistan the first stop on
my first trip abroad. At issue then as now were a range of security and
non-proliferation issues that dominated our agenda.  I was aware of the
danger that the government-to-government interaction had become
excessively one-dimensional.  Therefore, even in addressing the subject
of the hour -- which was fissile material and F-16s -- I tried also to
make sure that we kept our eye on the broader strategic picture: that
is, the opportunity for the U.S. and Pakistan to work together on a
wide variety of economic, social, political, and strategic goals in the
region and beyond.

Just as one example, since I was then as I am now dealing with the
former Soviet Union, I hoped to use my visit to Pakistan in 1994 to
share assessments and coordinate diplomacy with regard to several of
the New Independent States to your north.  On an even broader
geographical scope, I also wanted to talk with my hosts here in
Islamabad about how Pakistan might serve as an anchor of stability in
the region and provide a powerful model of democracy and Islamic
tolerance.  As I hope you all know, this is a subject of particular
interest and importance to President Clinton.

But I will confess: Those broader subjects did not get the attention
they deserved in my talks here 5 years ago -- any more than they got
the attention they deserved earlier today.  Then, as now, my Pakistani
interlocutors and I did not succeed in overcoming the gravitational
pull of the immediate security and non-proliferation issues.

We have an adage about life in government back in Washington that often
applies to diplomacy as well: "The urgent tends to drive out the merely
important."  For many years, that seems to have been a perverse motto
of U.S.-Pakistani relations. The urgency of non-proliferation asserted
itself more dramatically than ever last May, when India exploded its
weapons beneath the sands of the Pokhran Desert in Rajasthan.

At President Clinton's behest, I made an emergency trip to Islamabad
with the assignment of trying to convince Pakistan's leadership that
its interests were best served by not testing.  While my arguments
obviously proved unpersuasive, I feel I got a fair hearing; I fully
appreciated -- and faithfully reported -- the tremendous political and
strategic pressure that drove your government to order its own tests in
the Chigai Hills of Baluchistan. While my government disagreed with
yours profoundly on the decision itself, we understood and continue to
understand your concerns with a nuclear-capable India and your desire
to ensure that your vital security interests are protected.

The concerns we have expressed since then have prominently included
concerns about Pakistan's own safety and welfare.  We were convinced at
the time and remain convinced now that the nuclear tests constituted a
serious setback to Pakistan's standing in the eyes of the world -- and
to its prospects for economic recovery. But in the 8 months since then,
we, the United States, have not confined ourselves to criticism or
exhortation or lamentation.

Rather, we have seen it as our challenge, working with your government,
to find a way of managing our disagreement -- and of three immutable,
inescapable facts of life: 1) Pakistan's decision to develop nuclear
weapons and ballistic missiles; 2) the U.S.'s commitment to the Non-
Proliferation Treaty, arms control, and disarmament; and 3) both
countries' desire to restore the U.S.-Pakistani relationship to one of
unfettered, unambiguous mutual respect and mutual benefit, which means,
in the first instance, lifting sanctions.

The quest for such a reconciliation has been the driving force behind
my dialogue with Shamshad Ahmad, just as it was the principal objective
in President Clinton's mind when he met with Prime Minister Sharif
twice last year - in New York last September at the UN and again in the
White House in December.  In those meetings, our leaders talked not
only about the urgent issue -- how to achieve a breakthrough in our
dialogue -- but also about the "merely important" one of developing a
broad-gauge, multi-dimensional strategic partnership worthy of our
common values and common interests.

In his own approach to this challenge, President Clinton believes that
our desire for a strong, safe, secure, prosperous Pakistan is entirely
consistent with our hope that the world will, in the years ahead, rely
less and less on nuclear weapons  and that Pakistan will contribute to
movement in that direction.   Moreover, we believe that in the short
and medium term, without necessarily abandoning or reversing the
decision it made last year -- however regrettable the U.S., as your
friend, believes that decision to have been -- Pakistan can still take
concrete, positive steps that will bring it back into the mainstream of
the international community in its struggle against the spread of
weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.

First and foremost of such steps would be signing and depositing the
CTBT.  Other such steps would include helping to bring about an end to
the production of fissile material worldwide, contributing to the
tightening of international export controls and helping to bring about
what my friend Shamshad Ahmad calls a "strategic restraint regime" --
which would mean, both conceptually and operationally, defining
Pakistan's own defense posture in a way that avoids exacerbating
political tensions and military competition on the subcontinent.

By thus making itself demonstrably part of the solution to the problem
of non-proliferation, Pakistan would make it much easier for the
international community to assist this country in dealing with its most
pressing problems, particularly in the area of international finance
and economic reform.  It would also be far easier for the United States
to cooperate with Pakistan in strengthening its conventional defense
capabilities.

It is with this logic in mind that General Ralston and I have conducted
our side of the dialogue.  We do so in a spirit of total respect for
Pakistan's sovereignty.  We take it as given that the only appropriate
and workable solution to the nuclear issue is one that Pakistan's
leaders, Pakistan's parliament, and Pakistan's people clearly see as in
their own best long-term interests.

It is in that same spirit of mutual respect and common interest that we
view the situation next door in Afghanistan. Events in that troubled
land gave the U.S. and Pakistan an opportunity to work together not
just in prosecuting the Cold War, but also in accelerating its end. In
fact, it could be said that our strategic joint venture on the far side
of the Khyber Pass was, in a sense, the last battle of the Cold War.

Sadly, today Afghanistan is the locus of one of the first, most severe,
and most ominous battles of the post-Cold War World: the battle against
the forces of terrorism, extremism, and intolerance.  I hope -- all
Americans hope -- that the U.S. and Pakistan are as much on the same
side in that new struggle as we were in the old one.

Before going to your questions and comments, there is one more point I
should touch upon.  So far, I have concentrated on the four non-
proliferation goals that the U.S. is pursuing with Pakistan.  There is
a fifth issue as well, one that also involves your security and that of
the region.  This is the question of the relationship between Pakistan
and India.

The United States supports and encourages the efforts of both countries
to resolve the disputes that divide them, including the question of
Jammu and Kashmir.  We have listened carefully to what you have said on
this subject, we understand the centrality of this issue to you, and we
will do everything we can to help. I assure you that I pressed this
point during my visit to Delhi over the weekend.

As it happened, I was there at a rather dramatic moment in Pakistani-
Indian relations.  I should immediately confess that despite having
lived 3 years in the United Kingdom, I never figured out the game of
cricket.  As a baseball fan, I'm mystified at how a team can be 27 runs
ahead and still lose.  Anyway, congratulations to Pakistan on the
athletic outcome -- and congratulations to your Indian hosts for having
put on an impressive display of good-sportsmanship.

We have seen some other positive steps in recent months.  When I saw
him yesterday, Prime Minister Vajpayee expressed satisfaction and
cautious optimism regarding his talks with Prime Minister Sharif.
Foreign Secretary Ragunath made similar comments with respect to the
process he has been conducting with my friend Shamshad.   And the
Lahore-Delhi bus route is clearly of more than just symbolic value.

Ambassador Khan, I promised to be brief.  I have put these thoughts
forward as much as anything to stimulate discussion.  Just one
concluding thought, if I might: From the beginning of the current
process, eight rounds and 8 months ago, the U.S. position in the
dialogue with Pakistan has reflected an earnest effort to understand
and to the extent possible to take account of Pakistan's concerns,
aspirations, and perspectives.

In short, my colleagues and I came here to Islamabad -- and, more
specifically, to the Institute for Strategic Studies -- as much to
listen as to talk, as much to be advised as to express our own hopes
and concerns.  So it is in that spirit, Ambassador Khan, that I turn
the proceedings back over to you for what I'm sure will be a lively
discussion.  And I trust we'll talk about the "merely important" as
well as the urgent matters that concern us all.


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