Ironically, the BJP is opposing the deal in and outside the Parliament. Mr Mishra, one of the most powerful policy planners in the Vajpayee government, also said India should cooperate with the US and China to support democratic forces in Pakistan. ''I think we should go ahead with the deal...not doing so will be a severe loss of face for the government of India and for India,'' he said in an interview with a television channel.
Describing the opposition to the deal as a ''setback'' for India's hopes of acquiring dual-use technology, the former NSA said ''obviously, dual use technology will not be available to us if we don't go through with this and of course, it is a setback...losing the nuclear deal will mean India"s three-stage (civil nuclear) programme will suffer a set back.'' Mr Mishra said India should coordinate with the US, the EU and China to support democratic forces in Pakistan and encourage the country"s armed forces to work closely with the new civilian government to counter terrorism.
India should take the initiative to coordinate this multi-nation concerted action, he added.
Asked whether signing the deal would not hamper India"s strategic nuclear deterrent, Mr Mishra said he had got several assurances from senior representatives of the government and was convinced that it would not have any major impact on the strategic programme. ''...this deal doesn"t stop us from continuing our strategic programme.'' On whether he accepted the Government"s claim that the deal would not take away India"s right to conduct further nuclear tests, he said there was no doubt about that.
''There is no doubt about it that there"s no bar on India undertaking nuclear tests. Of course exercising that option means a lot of hardships, economic and otherwise, because sanctions will inevitably follow (but) we"re not barred from undertaking tests if we"re ready to pay the costs of sanctions, etc.'' Mr Mishra said if the next President of the US attempted to ratify the CTBT, the US Congress, with a sizeable Democratic majority, would do so and India would have to sign the CTBT.
Asked whether India would be forced to follow through and the option of nuclear testing would be closed if the US ratified the CTBT, the former NSA said ''it"s bound to be closed...CTBT (unlike NPT) is equal for all. There"s no discriminatory treatment in it. Which is why if the other 40 odd countries mentioned in the treaty ratify, India can"t hold back. India will have to sign it and we will have no argument to go against it.'' To a question on whether political parties were wrong in opposing the deal on the grounds that it could stop India carrying out further nuclear tests and that it could damage India"s nuclear deterrent, Mr Mishra said India would not be restricted from carrying out tests.
Mr. Mishra made it clear that he had not been consulted by the BJP over either the issue of nuclear testing or the impact of the nuclear deal on India"s strategic deterrent. He said the deal faced a now or never situation and if it was not signed during the George Bush regime, it would not be available on the same terms thereafter.
''It is now. It is now,'' he asserted.
Asked whether the Government should go ahead with the deal even if the BJP and the Left opposed it, he said ''that"s a political question. My personal view is that given the harmful effects of not going ahead, perhaps we should go ahead and do it.'' On the recent elections in Pakistan and the new civilian government in that country, Mr Mishra said elections in Pakistan were free and fair and, for the first time in decades, had brought hope of democracy in Pakistan.
''We have a situation where it is possible for us to look forward to a democratic Pakistan in the next decade or so.'' He pointed out that democratic parties in Pakistan needed support from the armed forces to tackle extremism and fundamentalism and added that it was in India"s interest to help them obtain this support.
He proposed that India, China, the EU and the US have a coordinated approach to encourage armed forces and democratic forces work together against extremism and terrorism in Pakistan and said India should take the initiative in creating this multi-nation coordinated approach.
He, however, said there was no need to go public to ensure that nobody in Pakistan should say that first the US was meddling in their affairs and now so many countries are.