12 October 1999
Defense Department Report, Tuesday, October 12(Pakistan situation) (610) CURRENT INSTABILITY IN PAKISTAN UNDERSCORES NEED FOR CTBT The current instability in the government of Pakistan underscores the Clinton administration's concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the Defense Department said October 12. Spokesman Ken Bacon said that according to news reports, the Pakistan situation arose when the prime minister attempted to replace the army chief of staff with a person of his own choosing. This move "triggered a response by the military," he said. Asked at the regular Tuesday Pentagon briefing about the situation, the spokesman said that while the United States does not "have a clear view of what's going on in Islamabad right now...it does underscore the need for treaties like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that would, if in effect, make it more difficult for countries to develop nuclear weapons." Pakistan has not signed the treaty, he continued, "but both India and Pakistan have indicated that they could in the future perhaps sign the treaty, and that would be good because it would make the further development of nuclear weapons more difficult if they cannot test them." It would have been better if they had signed the treaty before they tested nuclear weapons, Bacon said, adding "It's widely expected that if the leading nuclear power in the world refused to ratify the treaty, that there would be little incentive for other countries to ratify the treaty." The spokesman said there are "very limited military-to-military relationships between the U.S. and Pakistan," the primary reason being its nuclear program. "In 1990 U.S. military assistance to Pakistan was cut off under the so-called Pressler Amendment, which required the president to certify that Pakistan was not working to develop a nuclear device. President Bush felt that he could not certify that in 1990, he said. There were other contacts with Pakistan that continued, principally in the counter-narcotics area, he said, but the standard military-to-military transactions have not been occurring for about the past nine years. Following the nuclear test in May of 1998, he said, "there was at one point congressional discussion about restarting the IMET (military training) program on the theory that we needed to establish relationships between the United States and Pakistani military in order to get to know them better and to...establish paths for working with them on a variety of issues such as confidence-building measures. But that never took place." However, he continued, "General Anthony Zinni, commander-in-chief of the Central Command, has been to Pakistan several times to discuss nuclear issues, the need to subscribe to the test ban treaty, and also to try to find ways to reduce tensions in Kashmir." It is "very clear," Bacon said, that the United States does have some common concerns with Pakistan. "One is counter-narcotics; one is terrorism in Afghanistan, perhaps connected with the Taliban and other forces in Afghanistan. So there are reasons for us to have a dialogue with Pakistan." He added that there is no reason to believe the Pakistani military would "be lax on counter-terrorism." He reminded reporters that Pakistan was "very helpful during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1970's....So we have had a long strategic relationship with Pakistan over the years. It has been complicated from time to time...by their nuclear program, and also by the fact that Pakistan does have a history of military government." For almost half of Pakistan's nearly half century of statehood, it has been governed by the military, he said. Bacon stressed that the United States does not yet know the details of the situation in Pakistan and is awaiting clarification from Pakistan.