Thomas R. Pickering, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Remarks on Iraq, Pakistan and India
Foreign Policy Forum, George Washington University
Washington, DC, December 6, 1999

Thank you, Steve, for inviting me to join you today. You have had a tremendous impact on American foreign policy during your distinguished career, and I am honored to be with you.

I'd like to focus on U.S. policy toward three countries: Iraq, Pakistan and India. That may belie my intention of speaking for just 20 minutes!

While one would be hard pressed to draw parallels among these three countries, I would note one interesting fact. In significant ways, U.S. policy toward each has evolved since the end of the Cold War.

To name the obvious but perhaps forgotten point, the international coalition that forced Saddam's retreat from Kuwait was possible because of the end of the Cold War. We would have faced down Saddam in any case, but international unanimity would have been unlikely prior to 1990.

In South Asia, relations between the United States and India have the potential to deepen now that the end of the Cold War eliminates some of the tensions that once interfered in that set of relations. Problems still exist, but I think it is fair to say that these two great democracies are poised to build a relationship good for both countries and potentially stabilizing for the region.

Relations with Pakistan also have been affected by the end of the Cold War, but in more complex and sometimes contradictory ways. The end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan held out great hope for increased stability in the region - but instead, Afghanistan has dissolved into an intractable civil war, placing obvious pressures on Pakistan.

Meanwhile, one of our newest and greatest issues with Pakistan is that democracy be restored promptly.

Another thread linking these three countries is, unfortunately, their common interest in acquiring nuclear capability.


I would like to change focus now and discuss South Asia, in particular India and Pakistan. Long before the Cold War ended, Steve Solarz saw the importance of this region and its potential. He was a major force in ensuring that South Asian issues did not get lost among the pressing issues of its neighbors, particularly in the Middle East and Asia.

Today, we have four broad and interlinked policy interests in the region:

--Regional stability and conflict resolution


--Promoting democracy and human rights

--Promoting economic development in the region and finding opportunities for trade and investment.

Economic interests can be an engine for improvement on the security and political fronts. As even protesters in Seattle recognize, globalization is here to stay--and it is here to stay in large part because it is in every country's economic and human interest.

While there are valid concerns with such problems as child labor and trafficking of women and children in South Asia, the very fact of globalization gives us a better chance of helping to alleviate these problems.

In the information age, there is no place to hide iniquity and in a globalized economy, there is much incentive for making political changes that would have been unlikely in the past.

In India, we remain concerned with child labor in industries ranging from bricks and cigarettes to matches and fireworks, as well as with restrictions on union activity in export processing zones.

India also remains a primary destination for women and children trafficked into the sex trade from Nepal and Bangladesh.

The United States is supporting an NGO in India whose work includes fostering greater police cooperation in detecting trafficked people and enforcing India's own laws, as well as creating a database to track women and children rescued from brothels.

Based on the success of this program, the U.S. will develop relationships with NGO's in other parts of the country.

In Pakistan, the International Labor Organization has spearheaded innovative programs to rehabilitate children in the soccer ball industry, but child labor remains widespread in the production of carpets.

At the top of our agenda is the political crisis that erupted in Pakistan in October. While many Pakistanis favor fundamental change, and the move by the military has substantial public support, they do not appear to want the military to stay in power for a protracted period.

Sadly enough, failures by both the Sharif and Bhutto governments have colored perceptions of what democracy can accomplish in Pakistan.

For our part, we are pressing General Musharraf to make good on his pledge of restoring democracy.

A first step that would help restore confidence is to announce milestones and a clear timetable for a return to constitutional, civilian and democratic governance.

You will remember that an earlier Army Chief, General Zia, anticipated a brief period of military control when he took power and ended up ruling for 11 years.

As a matter of principle--one that we believe applies throughout the world--the remedy for flawed democracy is not a military coup, suspension of a democratically elected legislature, and the detention of the elected government.

Pakistan can and should become a beacon of democracy in the Muslim world. Until we see a restoration of democracy in Pakistan, we have made it clear we would not be in a position to carry on business as usual with Pakistani authorities.

Section 508 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act contains a prohibition against a broad range of assistance for a country whose democratically elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree. We have applied those sanctions with regard to Pakistan.

As a practical matter, most forms of assistance are already prohibited for Pakistan under the Glenn Amendment and other statutory restrictions relating to non-proliferation. Nonetheless, the fact that we took the decision and the fact of having the law on the books, have had an impact.

The challenge for us now lies in matching goals with the means available. The tools we have to persuade Musharraf are either limited or excessively blunt. We see no advantage in taking measures in the international financial institutions that would increase the chances of an economic crisis, and indeed ensure economic collapse.

Nor can we neglect to engage Pakistan on core issues of international concern, such as non-proliferation, terrorism and narcotics.

Anti-narcotics cooperation has been a bright spot on the U.S.-Pakistan bilateral agenda. For the first time Pakistan has extended its drug control laws into the autonomous tribal areas along the Afghan border, signaling an end to their status as sanctuaries for drug traffickers and heroin labs.

Opium poppy cultivation has declined from over 8000 hectares in 1992 to about 1500 hectares in 1999 thanks to high-level political support for aggressive eradication efforts and the success of U.S. alternative crop projects.

Opium production has declined from 175 tons to less than 40 tons in this period, while opium and heroin seizures have increased exponentially. Pakistan's efforts to attack narcotics problems are more constrained by a severe economic crisis than by lack of political will. High-level political support for anti-narcotics is continuing in the new regime.

Turning to security issues, resuming a dialogue with India is crucial to regional stability. General Musharraf has made encouraging statements to this end and ordered a unilateral withdrawal of troops from the international border, although not from the line of control in Kashmir.

We hope to see further confidence building measures and ultimately, a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Kashmir that takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Our agenda with Pakistan is thus both broad and delicate as we seek the restoration of democracy while remaining engaged with a country whose course of action has tremendous effect on the security of the region and with whom we share long ties.

Finally, let's consider India. Throughout the Cold War, relations with India were difficult. Although a democracy, India was very close to the Soviet Union and emerged as a leader of the Non-aligned Movement, viewing international relations through a North-South prism.

Which is to say, it was often at odds with the U.S., despite the great American popular sentiment supportive of independence, democracy, and the alleviation of hunger in India, and fascinated with its culture.

The end of the Cold War presented an opportunity to forge the ties that our common commitment to democracy suggests are possible.

As we gauge what type of partner India might make, it is useful to consider first India's self-image. India sees itself as one of the world's great civilizations, with over 5,000 years of culture. It has just passed the 1 billion mark in population, and its population is projected to be greater than China's by about 2020.

Modern India sees itself as a country with high tech prowess; as the world's most populous democracy; as a state that has moved from starvation and hand-outs to being an exporter of food; as a country that produces more films than Hollywood; as a nation that believes it merits a seat on the UN Security Council and is due more respect and attention than it gets from the international community and the United States.

This helps explain why "getting the bomb" was considered by Indian decision-makers to be a good thing. The bomb, in many Indians' view, says to the world, "Look at us, we are a country to contend with."

In contrast, India's political leaders rarely see their country in terms of Mother Theresa's suffering masses or as a country with one of the largest numbers of HIV infected people in the world, or a country where the bulk of the population remains poor and illiterate. In contrast, U.S. perceptions are too often limited to seeing only the weak sides of Indian society.

The U.S. interest in India spans strategic, economic, political and U.S. domestic arenas.

Strategically, India and Pakistan's nuclear testing is injurious to the United States not because either country poses any immediate and direct threat to the United States but because the tests upend the international non-proliferation regime, and set a terrible example for other countries.

India's and Pakistan's nuclear programs destabilize the region and could trigger an arms race that none can afford, politically, economically or socially.

Finally, the nuclear program raises the chances of a mistake of the use of such weapons--either in conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir or by accident or miscalculation.

U.S. officials have been very frank in explaining to both governments how very important--and incredibly expensive--nuclear safety and surety are.

Strobe Talbott has taken the lead in our dialogue with India on security issues. We have set four non-proliferation benchmarks for putting bilateral relations back on track.

--Signing and ratifying the comprehensive test ban treaty

--Putting in place a moratorium on further production of fissile material, pending conclusion of an international Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty

--Improving export controls on sensitive technologies

--Strategic restraint, that is, reducing the risk that a nuclear capability will lead to a destabilized strategic environment in South Asia.

Now that India's elections have occurred and the BJP-led government has been returned to power, Secretary Talbott was able to resume the strategic dialogue in November.

The elections brought an end to a long hiatus in our forward movement with India, and seemed to have galvanized the Indian government to consider non-proliferation issues in greater earnest.

In a November 29 interview, Indian Foreign Minister Singh effectively launched his campaign to secure a national consensus on signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. A key incentive seems to be the recognition that India's broader economic and international interests can not be advanced until India resolves its differences on these issues with the international community.

Economically, India is becoming important to the United States in a way many do not realize. Indian immigrants, and off-shore on-line operations in India, are increasingly important to the software industry. It is one of the countries whose educated people are helping to fill the gaps in our own workforce.

The population of Indian Americans is growing rapidly, as is their political clout. The Indian caucus on Capitol Hill now has over 100 members, while the Congressional Study Group on Germany has about 70.

India's high tech prowess, steady economic growth, and huge population suggest the potential for a growing trade relationship between us.

In fact, the U.S. is India's top trade and investment partner. Trade between the two grew 127 percent between 1991 and 1998.

That relationship could develop far more, if and when India succeeds in moving further away from a command and control economy, the license raj, and parastatals, and rids itself of the massive red tape that makes it a difficult place in which to do business.

There are some positive signs in this regard, including steps to open up the insurance and telecommunications industries to foreigners.

A comparison may help put the economic potential in perspective. Total U.S. trade with Singapore currently is greater than that with India, even though Singapore has just 3 million people to India's billion.

Clearly, there is tremendous economic potential.

India is responding positively in its increased dialogue with the United States, and we need to take advantage of that not just for traditional security and economic interests, but also to counter the human rights and environmental concerns that matter so justifiably to the American people.

Change in India on these questions could spur change elsewhere in the region. India is the engine that moves South Asia.

Recognizing the potential for closer ties with India, and the increasing importance of India on the world stage in the next century, President Clinton has expressed a desire to travel there in 2000. That would be the first visit of a U.S. president in over 20 years.

Given India's size and power, it is remarkable that we have stayed on separate paths for so long. For both countries, our size and sense of special and unique cultural roles has produced a tendency to appear to be lecturing or hectoring each other.

In our new dialogue with India, we discuss issues cooperatively and try to avoid raising hackles gratuitously as part of the process of building better ties. The end of the Cold War and the natural expansion of mutual interests gives us a new opportunity.

I hope this introduction to U.S. goals in each of these countries is elucidating and that you can now enlighten me.

[end of document]