Monday, September 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

USA lifts sanctions partially

Washington, September 23
President George W. Bush today lifted sanctions imposed on India and Pakistan in the wake of their 1998 nuclear tests, saying that maintaining the embargoes would not be in the national security interests of the USA.

The sanctions following tit-for-tat nuclear tests by the two countries barred US economic and military aid to them.

Observers here see the waiving of sanctions against Pakistan as a reward for Islamabad’s commitment to support the USA in its campaign against terrorism after the September 11 strikes in New York and Washington in which over 6,000 persons are believed to have been killed.

In case of India, most of the sanctions were already lifted by the Clinton Administration except those related to dual use technology and international lending. India has always maintained that continuation of the sanctions would be counterproductive.

President Bush, in a memorandum to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said: “The application to India and Pakistan of the sanctions and prohibitions ... will not be in the national security interests of the USA.”

“You are authorised and directed to transmit this determination and certification to the appropriate committees of the Congress and to arrange for its publication in the Federal Register,” he said.

Meanwhile, a late night report quoting US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the lifting of sanctions against India and Pakistan was partial.

While the post-nuclear sanctions were being lifted, other sanctions would remain, he told ABC-TV today.

Mr Powell said some wanted President George W. Bush to go further but he decided to lift only the post-nuclear sanctions.

He made these remarks when the interviewer asked him whether the lifting of sanctions was something that might come back to haunt the USA (over India, Pakistan’s nuclear development).

Mr Powell said: “We have been examining the lifting of those sanctions — not all sanctions but sanctions that were put in place against India and Pakistan as a result of their nuclear experimentation a couple of years ago.”

“So, frankly, I made the judgment to recommend to the President some weeks ago, (to have) some of these sanctions reviewed — not all of them; other sanctions are still in place. We consulted with Congress.”

Congress, Mr Powell said, was fully supportive and, “in fact, there have been some suggestions from Congress we lift even more sanctions”.

The President, however, decided to lift only those specific sanctions related to nuclear tests. (Major sanctions, such as those relating to dual use high tech items, predated the post-1998 sanctions), he said.

“So, I don’t think they (lifting of sanctions) will come back to haunt us. We have made clear to both countries we don’t want to see nuclear escalation any further in the region,” Mr Powell said.

He said both India and Pakistan “have been acting rather responsibly, especially in the present circumstances”.

To a question, Mr Powell said the USA had been getting cooperation from Pakistan “very very” substantially.

“General Musharraf,” he said, “took a risk in joining this coalition and he understood that it was an important campaign to be part of and so we are very pleased with the support we have received from Pakistan.”

Mr Powell told NBC-TV that the waiving of the sanctions was an important signal that Washington stood by its friends.

“It is an important signal that we will stand by our friends who stand by us,” he said.

He said the lifting of sanctions was under consideration for some months now. “We consulted with Congress in the light of the very forthcoming position the Pakistani Government has taken and the President waived some of the sanctions that are in place.”

Meanwhile, India’s Ambassador to the USA, Lalit Man Singh, said: “The sanctions imposed in 1998 were economic, military and restrictions on dual use technology. Some of these had been removed by President Clinton. But some also remained like the lending by international financial institutions or foreign military sale or transfer of dual use technology.

“So we take it that these remaining restrictions have now been removed as a result of the presidential waiver.” PTIBack


Advantage Pakistan
Salman Haidar

America has been signalling for some time that, in a major step to raise Indo-US relations a notch, the sanctions imposed on India after the 1998 nuclear tests would be lifted soon. But now that the announcement has finally been made in Washington, it brings doubt as well as satisfaction, for in the present context its implications for US policy towards this region are unclear.

The lifting of sanctions is desirable, of course, and a number of Indian establishments that handle sensitive or dual-use technologies can expect to benefit. Already the restrictions on lending to India by international financial institutions have eased, even though the sanctions that go back to the 1974 PNE are likely to remain in force. What could not have been anticipated before the terrorist attacks on America is that sanctions on Pakistan would be lifted simultaneously. Moreover, the additional sanctions on that country due to its non-democratic practices appear equally to have been set aside, permitting it to bid more strongly for international aid. Pakistan has been facing much greater difficulty than India on a number of fronts, so the turnaround in its fortunes as a result of the latest US decision is much more marked.

With this development, we are witnessing once more how the overwhelming requirements of global US strategy can sweep away its laboriously built and elaborately nuanced policy towards this region. It happened in 1979 when the Soviet entry into Afghanistan transformed Pakistan from a nuclear sinner into a front line ally. Even prior to that, bloc politics made it impossible for the USA to maintain balanced relations with the region. Circumstances are now very different and American goals today cannot be compared with those of earlier times. Where the similarity lies is in how even cherished aspirations, like promotion of the non-proliferation regime, can be set aside in pursuit of more immediately compelling objectives. Likewise, local sensitivities can be disregarded when the need arises. This is the sobering reality of global power.

The big beneficiary of the latest US policy shift is Pakistan whose active and complete support is critical to the campaign against Bin Laden. Gen Musharraf’s government has been compelled to back America, being prepared to do an aboutturn in its relations with the Taliban and, more critically, to brave the wrath of the many fanatical extremists within Pakistan itself. They have been out on the streets, venting their anger and dramatising General Musharraf’s internal problems. Lifting sanctions and offering an aid package is an obvious help to Pakistan at this difficult juncture. That, not the Indian demand, would have dictated the timing of the US decision to lift sanctions. What also comes across is that Indo-Pak matters are once more clubbed together and there is no breaking free of America’s hyphenated relationship with the subcontinent that we were told is a thing of the past. The hyphen is back with a vengeance.

While fully sympathetic to US concerns in the wake of the horrifying attacks, India has its own concerns that cannot simply be set aside. The alacrity with which India moved to support America and join the emerging global coalition against terrorism derived in part from the expectation that it would serve to curb cross-border terrorism from Pakistan. For India, this is the most potent threat, not the activity of Bin Laden. The irony is that Pakistan has taken its place in the front line of the US-led coalition against terrorism, despite its own adverse record on this subject. As a result, India will see no end to its travails at the hands of Pak-backed militants and is bound to wonder where events are leading.

The satisfaction that follows the lifting of sanctions will not mask these concerns. A period of difficulty in Indo-US relations may well lie ahead. Blithe talk of the two having emerged as “natural allies” already sounds hollow. India has faded from US thoughts and plans under the stress of present events. This need not be a cause of undue concern. But it does mean that the two countries will have to do quite a bit to restore the temper of their relationship which is valuable to both.
(The writer is a former Foreign Secretary).

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