Negotiations between the United States and Pakistan on a possible civil nuclear deal have often been rocky, and have dragged on for over a decade. The issue came back into sharp focus around Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington.

On Oct. 22, 2015, Press Trust of India reported that two letters were written to President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUS set to admit fewest refugees in decades: report NRATV host says Obama owes Parkland students an apology over shooting Paltry wage gains, rising deficits two key tax reform concerns MORE, voicing strong reservations over possible civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. The first letter was by Republican Sen. John CornynJohn CornynRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes MORE (Texas), who is co-chair of Senate India Caucus. The second was by Republican Rep. Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeRepublican lawmaker introduces new cyber deterrence bill Lawmakers question FBI director on encryption Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans MORE (Texas), who is chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade.

Poe’s views in his letter against Pakistan’s nuclear program were inappropriate and unreasonable. He wrote: “Constraining Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and its development and its ability to threaten India and other countries is also a key U.S. objective.” While the fact is that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program is for deterrence and India-centric.

He also gave a clean sheet to India, despite the fact that in 1974, India used materials acquired from Canada for peaceful purposes to build nuclear weapons. Indian companies have been sanctioned by the U.S. government for illicit nuclear trade with Iran, Iraq and Libya, which depicts potential weaknesses in Indian export control measures and flawed nonproliferation record. But the United States still signed a civilian nuclear deal with India.

It was the news agency Press Trust of India that first reported, on Dec. 2, 2015, that Poe will hold a congressional subcommittee hearing on Dec. 8, 2015 which would discuss the prospects and consequences of a possible nuclear deal between the United States and Pakistan. A few days later, on Dec. 4, an announcement appeared on the House Foreign Affairs Committee page.

But most importantly, the hearing notice from Poe was dated December 3, 2014. This raises the suspicion that if a congressional hearing on nuclear cooperation with Pakistan was planned a year ago, what urgency compelled Poe to write a letter to President Obama before PM Sharif’s visit?

The hearing’s four witnesses were Johns Hopkins University professor Daniel S. Markey, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center’s Henry Sokolski, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s George Perkovich, and Hudson Institute’s Hussain Haqqani.

The decision to invite Haqqani to submit a testimony on United States-Pakistan relations is objectionable. This is because a judicial commission constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan found that Haqqani was not loyal to the country, due to his alleged involvement in the Memo gate scandal. The commission also reported that Haqqani had sought American help, and he continues to be critical of Pakistan in the international and Indian media.

Furthermore, another former ambassador, Zameer Akram, recently alleged that Haqqani pressurized the then Pakistan People Party government not to consider the Pakistan Foreign Office’s recommendations to oppose the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement in IAEA.

In the congressional hearing, Haqqani termed the Obama administration’s decision to engage in nuclear, helicopter, and missile deals with Pakistan as conflict-provoking. Whereas Markey viewed the proposed deal as “unrealistic, poorly timed, and unwise” because of his uncertainty of the United States’ “own ability or interest in delivering even the limited diplomatic benefits promised by this sort of deal.”

Sokolski argued that any kind of civilian incentives to ensure a restrained nuclear environment, including the civilian nuclear deal with India, are ill-advised. He suggested instead that the focus be on getting “Pakistan and Indian officials to negotiate limits that are binding on both.”

Perkovich argued that the benefits attached to the deal are “not as great as they seem,” while the limits Pakistan is expected to accept will be objected to on the grounds that India was exempted from these limits when a similar deal was offered to New Delhi.

Clearly the objective of this congressional hearing was to enforce a cap on Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program. The Indian lobby, such as the US India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), in the past pushed a well-funded agenda to conclude a nuclear deal with the United States. Based on this incident, a case can be made that India is exerting influence over members of the United States Congress under the umbrella of the Senate India Caucus to oppose favors to Pakistan.

Many in the United States want to use India as an ally to counter a rising China. The point to ponder is: what if India, in a changing global order, decides to side with China and Russia in a conflict, for instance over Middle East oil or economic benefits in Central Asia, to serve its national interests? That will be a checkmate to the United States!

Civil uses of nuclear technology are numerous and beneficial, from which Pakistan has been prohibited as punishment since 1998. Therefore, the United States must devise a solution under which the inclusion of non-NPT states into the nuclear mainstream is acceptable without threatening nonproliferation regimes. The Nawaz Sharif government must take necessary measures to fight these allegations, and impress upon the international community the pivotal need of nuclear energy and technology for young Pakistani researchers, engineers, scientists, and the common man.

Zahid is a philosophy student in the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. Ehtisham is a philosophy student in the  Department of Strategic Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.