For the uninitiated, as chairman of the US Senate’s Arms Control Subcommittee, Pressler advocated the now-famous Pressler Amendment, enforced in 1990 when President George HW Bush could not certify that Pakistan was not developing a nuclear weapon.
Aid and military sales to Pakistan were blocked, including a consignment of F-16 fighter aircraft, changing forever the tenor of the United States’ relationships with Pakistan and India and making Pressler a hero throughout India and a devil in Pakistan. At the book launch that was held at Starmark, DT Next caught up with Pressler for a quick interview in which he spoke about everything from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump to the Indo-US nuclear deal and attacks on minorities in both countries. Here are excerpts from the interview.
About Neighbours in Arms
This book reveals what went on behind the scenes in the years when the Pressler Amendment was in force, through a cast of characters that include presidents, prime ministers, senators and generals in the US, India and Pakistan. It exposes the enormous power wielded by the military-industrial complex, which I’ve termed ‘Octopus’ and how it controls significant aspects of the American presence in the Indian subcontinent. I’ve tried to provide a comprehensive account of how US foreign policy in the subcontinent was formed from 1974 till today and have concluded with recommendations of a new US-India alliance that could be a model for American allies in future.
Indo-US ties under Trump
Trump may turn out to be a pretty good president, contrary to his self-inflicting wounds and tweets. I’d say wait and watch. Trump spells good news for India, but will be a spoiler for Pakistan. With respect to India, I see a bright future. The Indo-US Nuclear Deal in particular has not yet focussed on its real cause of providing electricity throughout the country. It’s been largely relegated to dealing with arms. As for Pakistan, I think we need to work towards declaring it a terrorist state. The government is hand in glove with the terrorist organisations. But I feel sorry for India for having to deal with such a bad neighbour for so long.
Modi as a world leader
Modi is good. The international community views him as an able leader and visionary. However, the attack on minorities is a cause for concern under his leadership. Having said that, both India and US need to work towards making its minorities, particularly the Muslim community protected. But I love India as a country and come here a lot. There are so many different people; so many different religions who live together. I love the airports here too. They’re like art galleries. India is also a huge market for books and reading materials.
Biggest challenge in the international community
It’s undeniably nuclear proliferation, and sadly, US has had a big role to play in it. I don’t think Pakistan would have gone ahead with nuclear weapons if Pentagon was sincere about non-proliferation.