WASHINGTON/NEW YORK  - The United States should offer Pakistan a conditions-based civilian nuclear deal as a way to save the relationship, severely tested during the last decade, as well as secure long-term interests with regard to containing militancy and atomic safety, an American analyst on South Asia has urged.

Christine Fair, an Assistant Professor in the Center for Peace and Security Studies, says Washington should adopt a new approach towards Pakistan, since the past US policies toward the South Asian country have failed.

She favours civilian nuclear deal as a way to make the relationship productive.

The US traditional approach of “muddling through” its management of Pakistan will not yield positive dividends forever, she points out.

It is time for a “big idea” for Pakistan, she said.

 “If the United States wants one last chance of salvaging a relationship with Pakistan, it should put on the table a conditions-based, civilian-nuclear deal,” she proposed in an opinion piece appearing in Time magazine.

Such an “enormous” deal and “political inducement”, the expert says, should help Islamabad curb the alleged support for militancy and help Washington achieve its goal of ensuring security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

Putting the nuclear deal on the negotiating table with Pakistan should have a clarifying effect, says Fair, while discussing a mix of positive and negative inducements.

“As 2014 looms, the United States should recognise that some meager prospects for a peaceful Pakistan may be the prize rather than a functional Afghanistan, fair advocates, while faulting both Pakistan’s policy on militancy and Washington’s expansion of war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, during the last 11 years, Washington and its allies have persistently pursued a policy—howsoever inept and ill-conceived—that prioritized Afghanistan.”

“Unable to forge a tandem policy to manage the twinned threats inhering in and from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the international community had a semblance of an Afghanistan strategy while never formulating a Pakistan strategy at all. A simple perusal of the March 2009 White House paper, titled “New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” belies the ruse of a policy for Pakistan,” she claims.

In the piece, Fair also underscores the fact that al Qaeda was never an asset to Pakistan. “However, the United States and NATO expanded the goals of the Afghan effort to include “nation building” and “defeating the Taliban. This was a vital mistake,” she says.

Contemplating about the future Afghan scenario, Fair notes that the United States will leave Afghanistan in 2014, although it is likely that the United States will retain some presence in negotiations with the current Afghan government and that which will emerge after the presumed Afghan Presidential elections in 2014.

“Many Afghan hands hope — against most odds — that the United States will continue subsidizing the overgrown, rentier state that the United States helped to build. Indeed, unless the United States keeps footing the bill, the Afghan National Security Forces will likely collapse into a series of militias that will fight for the spoils of a retrograde State.” On the Taliban, she says, they may even return in some measure. “But this does not matter. The Taliban are Jurassic savages. But they would not kill Americans if the Americans and their allies were not there occupying the country.”