September 2007, Vol. 2, No. 9

Energy, Foreign Dependence, and Nuclear Testing: The Controversy over the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

kakodkar and SinghAdvocates of the U.S.-India nuclear deal accuse the deal’s detractors of supporting Chinese and Pakistani interests, or at least having an inferiority complex. The detractors accuse Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of selling India’s autonomy to the U.S. for a few megawatts of nuclear energy. Everyone is confused about what the deal actually means.

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In this Issue:
  1. Feature
    Energy, Foreign Dependence, and Nuclear Testing: The Controversy over the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal

  2. Views from South Asia:

    Foreign and Domestic Politics

    The Hyderabad bombings; the Haneef saga; Sino-Indian relations; education policy

    Pharmaceutical patents; a creative pro-poor strategy; India-ASEAN free trade agreement

    Nawaz Sharif’s Re-exile; Bhutto and Musharraf; all things judicial; Rawalpindi blasts; Pakistan’s foreign critics

    Politics in the interim government

    The Constituent Assembly campaign

    The humanitarian invasion; human rights abuses in the Sri Lankan civil war

  3. In-Depth Analysis
    India-Myanmar relations; The Hyderabad bombings; the U.S.-India nuclear deal

  4. Additional Resources


Editor's Note

Facing dissent in Parliament and the press over the proposed U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to consult with the Left to avoid a crisis. But on September 10, Parliament was adjourned nearly a week early. On August 25, twin bombing shook Hyderabad, killing at least 42 and injuring 54.

In Pakistan, the negotiations between former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and President General Pervez Musharraf continued. When former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif landed in Pakistan after a seven-year exile in Saudi Arabia, he was immediately deported.

Bangladesh’s political crisis, eight-months old, continues to unfold. The interim government imposed a five-day curfew in six cities after a clash between student protesters and the military. Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was arrested on graft charges as part of the interim government’s continuing anti-corruption campaign. And Iajuddin Ahmed will continue on as interim president past September 5, the end of his term.

On September 5, the Sri Lankan government captured an LTTE naval base in the country’s northwest.

Sam McCormally
Editor, South Asian Perspectives

Feature: U.S.-India Nuclear Deal
Energy, Foreign Dependence, and Nuclear Testing: The Controversy over the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal
protesterBoth the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the leftist members of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition took strong stands against the proposed India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal.

An editorial admonishes both the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the BJP for taking hard-line ideological stances that coincide more with the interests of Pakistan and China than India. “BJP will find itself out of sync with the aspirations of the rising middle class,” if it continues to oppose the nuclear deal, while “investors will flee” communist-ruled West Bengal if the party abandons its pro-industry policies. (The Times of India, August 22, 2007).

Prashka Nanda seconds the Times’ condemnation of the deal’s critics, accusing both the right and the left parties of “cheap politics.” To the left, Nanda argues that the treaty’s guidelines are not mandatory, and that the treaty therefore does not infringe upon India’s non-aligned status. To the right, he insists that India’s right to test a nuclear weapon has been preserved, and further that the U.S. has assured the supply of fuel to India even in the event of a nuclear test. (The Times of India, August 24, 2007).

But the Left’s opposition to the 123 Agreement is broader than the technical details. It stems, argues Praful Bidwai, from the deal’s deviation from the National Common Minimum Program (NCMP), the document specifying the terms under which the Left agreed to support the center-left UPA. The NCMP, “promised that India would correct the strong pro-U.S. tilt in its foreign policy and security orientation…work for a ‘multipolar’ world, and assume a ‘leadership role’ in fighting for global nuclear disarmament.” (Frontline, August 25, 2007).

Harish Khare also dismisses the criticisms of the deal, which he says are “located in the psychology of an uncertain nationalism of an emotionally insecure society.” And he further worries that the current dissent in India’s Parliament will be perceived abroad as weakness: “Weak governments do not make tough negotiators.”(The Hindu, August 29, 2007).

But if Khare sees the fallout over the nuclear deal as the symptom of the Left’s immature insecurity, Brahma Chellaney puts the blame for the current crisis on the Prime Minister himself. Manmohan Singh kept details of the deal away from the Parliament and acts as though it “has no role on the bilateral agreement with the U.S. other than to be merely informed about it.” Chellaney defends the proposal to amend the Indian constitution to make Parliamentary ratification of international treaties mandatory, and advocates for greater governmental transparency and accountability. (The Times of India, August 30, 2007).

Prakash KaratEven The Hindu’s editorial board, which endorsed the 123 Agreement, embraced the decision of the Prime Minister to sit down with Prakash Karat, general secretary of the CPI-M to discuss his party’s grievances. The Hindu writes that some of the Left’s objections are strong, including “the loss of external autonomy with an increased American influence on foreign policy making.” For the Congress Party to proceed without engaging its critics on the Left “would have been to behave like a majority government that it is not.” (The Hindu, September 1, 2007).

Vijay Prashad, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky decry the deal as “another attempt by the Bush administration to weaken the framework of international law” by undermining the non-proliferation regime. The authors further worry that the deal will provoke hostilities between Pakistan and India. (The Hindu, September 3, 2007).

Meanwhile, Pakistanis like Najmuddin A. Shaikh wonder why exceptions to the non-proliferation regime are made for India and not its neighbor to the west. But, as Shaikh notes, the deal is far from through—it remains a tough sell in the American Congress, the IAEA, and the NSG, all of which must approve the 123 Agreement. (Dawn, September 6, 2007). But beyond disagreement about whether the 123 Agreement is a bane or a boon for India, there’s considerable confusion about what the treaty even means. Michael Krepon and Alex Stolar highlight some of the areas of confusion. For example, supplying nuclear fuel to India in the event that India tests a nuclear bomb would violate U.S. law, but “one provision in the 123 Agreement pledges to provide India, one way or another, with an ample fuel bank to guard against disruption caused by nuclear testing.” (The Hindu, August 25, 2007).

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Views from South Asia

INDIA - Foreign and Domestic Politics
Hyderabad BombingsThe Hyderabad Bombings
Pakistani jihadi terrorists’ repeated attacks on Hyderabad trace back to partition, writes B. Raman in an analysis of the dual bombings that shook the city on August 25. When the Muslim ruler of Andhra Pradesh chose to accede to Pakistan, the Indian government stepped in. To this day, jihadists claim as their cause the liberation of Indian Muslims from Hindu rule. Indian politicians need to step up their anti-terror efforts, but, bemoans the author, “perceived softness of politicians in dealing with terrorism has unfortunately no influence on voter opinion. This has to change.” (Outlook India, September 3, 2007).

But others were more reluctant to blame Pakistan for the recent attacks. The political vacuum in Bangladesh is providing safe haven for terrorists, warns the Times of India, including the Pakistani-based Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami, which has recently outsourced its operations to Bangladesh, and is suspected of having a hand in the August 25 attacks. “If India is to check incidents of terrorism within its borders, it has to cast aside its obsession with Pakistan and engage constructively with all its neighbors,” advises an editorial. (The Times of India, September 4, 2007).

The Siasat Daily reports the arrest of over 40 youths in connection with the Hyderabad bombings, “but neither were their arrests declared nor were they produced in court.” Lateef Mohammed Khan, secretary of the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee said, "These youth were kept blindfolded and were being tortured to make them admit involvement in the blasts." (The Siasat Daily, September 4, 2007).

The Haneef Saga
Mohammed Haneef was taken into custody on July 2 by Australian authorities who suspected the Bangalore-native of terrorism. The Australian government was forced to release him on July 27 after its case disintegrated. Haneef’s release was the result of Australian civil society’s “commitment to Dr. Haneef’s rights, well-being, and safety,” and the Indian government, which pressured the Australian government to free Haneef despite the objections of the domestic press, writes Vidya Subrahmaniam (The Hindu, Friday, August 17).

SinghSino-Indian Relations
India desperately needs Japanese investment if it is to complete crucial infrastructure projects, and the two nations’ leaders have pledged to increase the meager four billion U.S. dollars a year in Japan-India trade. But China worries that closer Sino-Japanese ties represent more than economic bonds, writes B. Raman.

Despite India’s adamant reassurances to the contrary, China has perceived Japan’s warming relations with India, including Japan’s support for the U.S.-India nuclear deal and India’s participation in naval exercises with Japan, the U.S., Australia, and Singapore as “a quadrilateral strategic co-operation to contain the growing Chinese naval power in the Bay of Bengal/Indian Ocean region.”(Outlook India, August 22, 2007, free registration required).
But Japan isn’t the only thing getting in the way of the friendship between the world’s two most populous nations. India’s widening trade deficit with China is raising alarms, notes Pallavi Aiyar, as is the composition of exports between the two nations. India mostly ships China primary goods, while Chinese exports to India are mostly value-added products. It’s this unbalanced economic relationship that the Indian ambassador to China Nirupama Rao calls “unsustainable in the long run.” (The Hindu, August 28, 2007).

Education Policy
Barshar Dutta
argues against Prime Minister Singh’s proposals to increase funding for higher education. Subsidizing primary and secondary education has incredible social benefit, he writes, but “subsidized higher education aggravates social inequalities,” because “the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries of higher education today are the urban elite.” (The Times of India, August 23, 2007).

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INDIA - Economics

India Pharmaceutical Patents
Thailand, Rwanda, and other nations have successfully utilized the WTO’s compulsory licensing provision to override patents on pharmaceutical drugs, particularly AIDS medication, and import generic versions of the drugs at significantly reduced costs. This trend may persuade Indian manufactures to forego patenting their products, and “instead make them available at generic prices to enjoy the first-mover advantage,” writes an editorial. (The Hindu, August 31, 2007).  

A Creative Pro-Poor Strategy
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which guarantees rural households 100 days of paid work a year, is one of the UPA’s “most impressive achievements,” writes The Hindu. Although the program is currently applied inconsistently across the country, and greater transparency is needed, there have already been some striking results. “In Rajasthan, where public awareness of NREGA is quite high, the program generated as many as 77 days of employment per rural household in 2006-07.” (The Hindu, August 25, 2007).

India-Asean Free Trade Agreement
The Hindu is confident that the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement will be signed at the September summit in Singapore. “Ninety-eight percent of the contentious issues have been settled,” proclaims an editorial. All that is needed is a political thrust to overcome the protectionist lobbies. (The Hindu, August 31, 2007).

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Nawaz Saharif's Re-ExileNawaz Sharif’s Re-Exile
The Daily Times writes that the fallout over former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s re-exile to Saudi Arabia will have as much to do with the reaction on the streets as with the reaction in the court. Sharif’s party, the PMLQ, is strongest in Punjab, but the Punjabi PMLQ leaders are past the peak of their influence. The big question, then, is “What will Punjab do?” (The Daily Times, September 11, 2007).

By deporting Sharif, Musharraf’s government blew an opportunity to regain a tiny bit of credibility, argues Dawn. Allowing the courts to adjudicate the corruption charges pending against Sharif would have boosted the public’s faith in the rule of law, and Sharif’s return “would have served to strengthen the political process, encouraged other personalities in exile to return and paved the way for what could possibly become one of the most hotly contested general elections.” (Dawn, September 11, 2007).

Bhutto and Musharraf
The U.S. is a main player in the dealings between Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf, writes Ayaz Ahmed Pirzada. A power sharing agreement between the former Prime Minister and the President General could “bring a more democratic spirit to Pakistan.” But Americans aren’t eager to oust Musharraf, who they see as a reliable “guardian of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and as an ally against terrorism.” (The News International, August 27, 2007).

Masooda Bano disapproves of the negotiations between Benzair Bhutto and Musharraf. Benazir Bhutto’s desperation to push through a power-sharing arrangement displays both desperation to have the corruption charges against her dropped, and a lack of confidence in her alleged popular appeal. As for Musharraf, no compromise is good enough for Bano: “The only way for peaceful transfer is for General Musharraf to quit.”(The News International, September 7, 2007). 

Anjum Niaz talks with a Pakistani expatriate couple who feel quite differently. “It’s not Musharraf who needs Pakistan, but Pakistan that needs Musharraf,” they say. (The News International, August 28, 2007).

Kamila Hyat examines the leadership possibilities for Pakistan. The choices “may not inspire any great enthusiasm,” but “in the longer run the process of democratic choice is essential.” (The News International, August 31, 2007).

Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad ChaudhryAll Things Judicial
A Pakistan Observer editorial praises the role lawyers have had in pressing for democratic reforms, but urges them to “let political parties manage political affairs and concentrate on their own profession,” rather than pushing an ideological agenda. (Pakistan Observer, September 7, 2007).

Masooda Bano believes that Pakistan’s best hope in the struggle to demilitarize Pakistan rests with the judiciary. (The News International, August 31, 2007).

As the judiciary has regained prominence over the past few months, Noman Ahmed argues that “other pillars of the state cannot be absolved of their responsibilities.” The executive remains too unwilling and ineffective to enforce the court’s rulings, and “the political will to correct the ills in the executive machinery is simply non-existent.” (Dawn, August 27, 2007).

Rawalpindi Blasts

The News International argues that in order for terrorists to be stopped, “the intelligence and security agencies must raise their performance bar at par with that of the terrorists.” (The News International, September 5, 2007).

Pakistan’s Foreign Critics

Shireen M. Mazari vociferously attacks a new book on Pakistan’s nuclear program, believing this book “undermines Pakistan’s capabilities and national assets.” (The News International, September 5, 2007).

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ZiaPolitics in the Interim Government
With former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia joining former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina behind bars on corruption charges, and “indoor politics” banned across Bangladesh, the old political order would seem to have been uprooted. But with no emergent political alternative, Anand Kumar finds it “difficult to visualize a political order free from the influence of these leaders.” (SAAG Paper 2358, September 5, 2007).  

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s two major parties refused to take part in any discussion on electoral reforms with the interim government as long as their leaders remain imprisoned on corruption charges. This leaves reformers in a pickle: if the commission goes ahead with electoral reform without either major party, the process is unlikely to have legitimacy in the political establishment. If the commission decides to wait for more desirable conditions, the electoral road map will break down. The interim government ought to release the political leaders on bail and “withdraw the ban on indoor politics so that intra- and inter-party talks can be initiated over the commission’s proposal for electoral reforms,” advises an editorial. (The New Age, September 5, 2007).

The Daily Star concurs, urging the interim government to allow the Election Commission to “create the conditions that will allow politicians to initiate discussions on such plans at different layers within their respective party structures.” (The Daily Star, August 8, 2007). Mahbubul Haque and Tom Wipperman, however, dismiss as misguided the focus of the anti-corruption drive on prominent politicians. Democracy in Bangladesh was superficial even before the military established the interim government in January, they argue. Elections are “seen by the political elite to be purely an act of legitimizing their behavior; indeed, it is conceived as the end in accountability, not the means.” Reformers must look at the causes of corruption—“weak democratic institutions and practice”—rather than the symptoms. (The New Age, September 3, 2007).

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The Constituen Assembly Campaign The Constituent Assembly Campaign
Bindu Chaudhary
provides a comprehensive look at the November 22 election, which will pick the members of the Constituent Assembly that will draft the Nepalese constitution. She advocates for a rights-based constitution in which ethnic minorities and women are guaranteed political representation and basic freedoms. (, September 1, 2007).

With constituent assembly elections looming, CK Lal argues the Maoists “want to go to the electorate on their terms and keep their cadres engaged in the interim” (Nepali Times, August 24, 2007).

The Nepali Times argues that “agitating groups must desist from playing politics to extract maximum concessions from a weak state” as there are no excuses now to stop the election of a constituent assembly (Nepali Times, August 31, 2007). In another editorial it argues “peaceful politics is the only path to peace (Nepali Times, September 7, 2007).

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The Humanitarian InvasionThe Humanitarian Invasion
After P. Nedumaran’s threat to forcibly enter Sri Lanka with food for Jaffna, a Daily Mirror editorial argues it is the duty of the government to “ensure that the people who are caught up in the armed conflict – whatever their ethnic identity – are quickly and adequately supplied” (Daily Mirror, September 7, 2007).

Human Rights Abuses in the Sri Lankan Civil War
After its success in the East, the Sri Lankan government has declared it will use the same low-intensity tactics against the LTTE in the North. Jehan Perera argues that one advantage of this strategy is that a long term war can be “a life support system to a government that is proving unable to deliver economic benefits to the people due to its corruption and inefficiency.” But most Sinhalese believe that a war is unlikely to resolve the conflict. (The New Age, September 1, 2007).

The Tamil Guardian argues that instead of working towards a “just solution” for the Sri Lankan state, the international community is instead “acting decisively to assist the Sinhala chauvinists in their efforts to retain power over the Tamils” (The Tamil Guardian, August 29, 2007).

Rageen Joseph and Prashanth Parameswaran describe the humanitarian tragedy of the protracted Sri Lankan civil war—70,000  dead since 1983, nearly the entire population of north and east Sri Lanka displaced—and decry the inaction of the international community, including the U.S. “Under the Leahy Law, the U.S. is prohibited from providing aid to any foreign military personnel engaged in human rights abuse,” they write. “Yet, the U.S. government continues to train Sri Lankan troops, disregarding human rights violations.” (Just World News, August 30, 2007).

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In-Depth Analysis
Whither India-Myanmar Relations?, Rajiv Sikri and Marie Lall, SAAG paper 2341, August 22, 2007  

Hyderabad Blasts: What Do They Portend?, by Sujoyini Mondal, IPCS, September 7, 2007

Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal and Nonproliferation: Some Views from the U.S., by Gurmeet Kanwal, IPCS, September 7, 2007

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Additional Resources
PM’s statement in the Lok Sabha on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation with the United States, August 13, 2007

Address to the Nation by the President of India on the Eve of Independence Day, August 14, 2007

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Editorial Staff

Sam McCormally, junior fellow, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment

Kathleen Donaldson, program assistant, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Ph: 202-939-2306

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