Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to visit the United States in June, and it is rumored that he will address the US Congress during his trip. The Indian media claim that Westinghouse, an American nuclear and electric power company will finally sign the long pending nuclear plant deal that has been holding up the implementation of the US-India civil nuclear agreement.

The US-India civil nuclear agreement has already led to many civil nuclear agreements between India and other world powers like Australia, Canada, and Japan, etc. Being able to import an unlimited supply of the world’s uranium has freed up India’s indigenous stockpiles for military purposes, allowing India to vertically proliferate and build an enormous number of nuclear weapons.

Recently some news articles have surfaced in the Pakistani media, blaming Pervez Musharraf for the US-India nuclear deal, arguing that he did not object to the deal, and because he failed to prevent it, India now has a nuclear advantage over Pakistan. Could Pakistan have stopped the deal from happening? And is Musharraf to blame?

On October 28, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement Act, officially bringing into force the US-India civil nuclear agreement. This deal has given India the opportunity to engage in nuclear commerce with any country it wants, without signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Basically, India now has access to the world’s uranium supply, as well as the latest nuclear technologies.

In July 2005, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the United States, President Bush offered to work towards full civil nuclear cooperation with India if India separated its civil and military nuclear facilities, and placed all of its civil nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards.

The IAEA Safeguards are essentially a system of inspection and verification of nuclear materials. So let’s say if India says it has an X amount of nuclear material, the IAEA inspect and verify the Indian declaration and keep track of it to make sure it is used for peaceful civil purposes, and not diverted for military use.

India was able to strike a Safeguards agreement with the IAEA on August 1, 2008, and received a final approval from the IAEA Board of Governors on August 18, 2008.

The next step on the road to a deal required the United States to reach out to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which is a nuclear export control group that was formed in response to India’s first nuclear test in 1974, to grant a waiver to India so it can engage in civilian nuclear trade with the world.

Under a tremendous amount of pressure from the Bush government, the NSG granted India a waiver on September 6, 2008 permitting it access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel from other countries. This waiver devastated the nonproliferation regime.

Could Pakistan have done something to prevent this deal from becoming reality? According to Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United Nations at Geneva, the answer is: Yes.

Pakistan’s foreign office was prepared to oppose the deal, and could have succeeded if a certain President had not intervened, and I am not talking about Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf resigned from the Presidency on August 18, 2008. The NSG exemption that led to the success of the US-India nuclear deal was approved on September 6, 2008. In fact, Pervez Musharraf was not part of any policy or decision after March 15, 2008; the Pakistan People’s Party took charge of the government.

Last December, Ambassador Akram clearly stated that it was Asif Ali Zardari and Hussain Haqqani that failed to block the US-India nuclear deal.

According to Ambassador Akram, the Bush Administration bulldozed the deal in a very short time, and despite the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ objections, our Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, refused to challenge the Americans. In addition, it was President Asif Ali Zardari who had personally ordered then Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Pakistan’s Ambassador in Vienna, Ambassador Shahabaz, to back off and withdraw our opposition to the US-India nuclear deal.

A WikiLeak cable separately revealed that President Zardari had gone behind the administration’s back and pressured Ambassador Shabaz to withdraw Pakistan’s objection, and by the time folks in Islamabad learned of this, it was too late for their intervention. The damage had been done.

Answering a question at a roundtable conference in Islamabad earlier this year, General (R) Khalid Kidwai, who led the Strategic Plans Division for over a decade, serving as the guardian of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, remarked that Pakistan had an opportunity to block the US-India deal. As a former military man, the General did not point fingers at any political figure or party, but essentially validated Ambassador Akram’s previous statement.

There is a lot of blame for Pervez Musharraf for the mistakes he made while he was the President of Pakistan; he has even acknowledged a few of them himself—but to set the record straight in the case of the US-India nuclear deal, Musharraf cannot be held responsible. The real culprits who should be held accountable are Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s former President, and Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States.