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Dr. Rabia Akhtar’s “The Blind Eye” book launched in America
The Woodrow Wilson Center, in collaboration with Stimson Center, on April 3, launched Dr. Rabia Akhtar’s book titled “The Blind Eye: U.S. Non-Proliferation Policy Towards Pakistan from Ford to Clinton” in the United States of America. The occasion was moderated by Nuclear History Director Dr. Christian F. Osterman and discussed by Hannah Hartland (Stimson Center) supplemented by Dr. William Burr of the US National Security Archives of George Washington University. 

Dr. Rabia is the Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR) and the Head of School of Integrated Social Sciences (SISS) at The University of Lahore. 

The event attracted several researchers, policy makers, academics, students, media, and officials from the Pakistani embassy. Dr. Osterman praised the first history of U.S. non-proliferation policy towards Pakistan and later complained that the accounts of Pakistani nuclear policy are based on the declassified documents from the U.S., Europe, and India. “We have not heard such accounts from Pakistan. Pakistani authorities should learn from this work that there is need to have similar resources for researchers so that its side of the story becomes known,” he said. 

Sharing about her book, Dr. Rabia opined that in the absence of similar corroboration from Pakistanis, it remains her own interpretation of history. She observed that Pakistan doesn’t have a policy of declassifying documents and several of the personalities involved in its nuclear program have died. “Pakistan-U.S. relations are only defined in terms of the uneasy periods. No one talks about the times where this relationship has been mutually beneficial. All the U.S. administrations developed a quid pro quo of aid against non-proliferation guarantees, with the underlying understanding that Pakistan would not embarrass the U.S. The A. Q. Khan story had started around 1974. The U.S. had intelligence reports on his activities all along but this information was only made public in 2004, only when it was most favorable for them to arm-twist Pakistan,” she added.  

Dr. Rabia, a foreign policy expert explained that the U.S. had information on Pak-China nuclear cooperation and DPRK-Pakistan missile linkages but did not make these details public until late opportune times. “Had there been no Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, Pakistan would have still developed nuclear weapons owing to its genuine security concerns vis-à-vis India, but the timeliness would have been different,” she added.  

On her part, Ms. Hannah Haegland commended The Blind Eye saying; “it is equally relevant for not just academia and researchers but also for policy makers. This work provides an interesting case-study of how outsiders can study the U.S. system and dexterously work it to their advantage”.  

Dr. Burr remarked that A. Q. Khan’s activities were also in some ways serving Pakistan’s national security objectives (reference to his procurements for Pakistan). “The U.S. Administrations continued to hide things from the Congress. The U.S. wanted to balance between non-proliferation and security objectives but security concerns were generally given preference. At some instances, the U.S. eye stayed blind officially even though they had irrefutable information on Pakistan’s proliferation activities,” he said.  

In response to a question on more scrutiny of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Dr. Rabia stressed that Pakistan doesn’t require any international scrutiny adding that it is a nuclear weapon power with a robust command and control and remains engaged with relevant international organizations like the IAEA. 

During her US itinerary, Dr. Rabia presented her book to Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Dr. Asad Majeed, and Pakistan's Permanent Representative at the UN, Amb. Dr. Maleeha Lodhi. The book, which was premiered in March 2019 in Islamabad, is now available for purchase at

  • Dr. Rabia Akhtar’s “The Blind Eye” book launched in America
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