September 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India
No euphoria over lifting of curbs
New Delhi, September 23
“The sanctions have been there for a long time and its lifting might have little impact on the country’s economy though it can make a difference in the defence sphere,” observed highly-placed sources in the BJP-led NDA government.
There is no doubt that the expected lifting of sanctions against India had acquired an element of urgency thanks to Pakistan which has acceded to Washington’s demands in its war against international terrorism. The Bush Administration lifted the sanctions against India and Pakistan in one stroke on the ground that the prohibitions would not be in the national security interests of the USA.
Even as India waged a relentless battle against cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir for more than a decade underlining the need for a purposeful global initiative against this menace, New Delhi had maintained that the sanctions imposed by the USA after Pokhran II were counter-productive and impinged on the development of Indo-US relations.
The Atal Behari Vajpayee government and leaders of major political parties welcomed the lifting of sanctions though it was not immediately known if this covered technology transfer in nuclear-related and defence spheres.
Union External Affairs and Defence Minister Jaswant Singh said the lifting of sanctions was an “expected development.” He said the government was awaiting details of the formal announcement made by the USA.
Mr Jaswant Singh spoke to US Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowiez over the telephone and exchanged views on the developing situation. The American appreciation of the Indian position was reiterated.
Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha did not regard the lifting of sanctions by the USA as an earth-shaking development. “It is a good thing that sanctions have been lifted but it is a minor issue as far as the Indian economy is concerned because sanctions have spent themselves out,” the Finance Minister noted.
Mr Sinha said as far as the economy itself was concerned, except for certain defence supplies, the sanctions “had no meaning.”
Even as the BJP was highly circumspect in commenting on the lifting of sanctions by the USA, the Congress emphasised that it should make no difference to the country. Convener of the BJP’s economic cell Jagdish Shettigar said the sanctions could have been lifted because of pressure from Pakistan for extending support in the fight against international terrorism. He felt the US move might give India some psychological comfort.
Chairman of Congress party’s foreign affairs department K. Natwar Singh said the sanctions imposed by the USA were proving to be counter-productive for Washington. He pointed out that Islamabad would be able to get military aid from the USA as military component was part of the sanctions. This assumes importance because Washington has made Islamabad its strategic partner after the airborne terrorist strikes in New York and Washington on September 11.
Meanwhile, Indian industry was on cloud nine with the lifting of American sanctions as in its opinion this would boost bilateral trade and investment. Sanctions had inhibited American companies in making investments in this country and transferring technology to Indian companies, according to CII president Sanjiv Goenka. He said despite the global slowdown CII would now take new initiatives to enlarge trade and investments with the USA.
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