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India unruffled as USA waives sanctions on Pak
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
The Government of India is unruffled over the George Bush administration’s waiver of post-coup sanctions against Pakistan even as Washington continues to mollify New Delhi over its decision to grant Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status to Islamabad and talks about “de-hyphenating” its relationship with the sub-continent’s arch-rivals.

There was no official reaction from the Government of India today after President Bush on Wednesday waived sanctions on Pakistan imposed after President Pervez Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999. The waiver will ensure unimpeded flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in direct US economic aid.

Sources, however, told The Tribune that there was nothing new in the waiver. Washington had come out with the waiver for the first time in 2001 for a period of two years, justifying it in the wake of 9/11 terrorist strikes.

New Delhi is in no mood to react on this waiver because it believes that there is no point in talking about the tail when the elephant has already gone past. The analogy is obviously an allusion to Washington’s announcement of its decision of granting MNNA status to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Washington has come out with its most direct admission yet of India’s rejection of “a similar” status to India.

White House spokesman McClellan had gone on record earlier this week saying “We’d be willing to explore the same possibility of similar cooperation with India. It’s something we’ve made clear.” Indian Foreign office spokesman Navtej Sarna’s reaction to this was terse and significant: “We have not given any consideration to that kind of relationship with the US.”

Washington’s continued mollification of India (over the latter’s anger on the MNNA move) was evident from another remark of Mr Boucher. He said: “... We are, shall we say, de-hyphenating the relationships that we have with India and Pakistan, and that we are consigning the hyphen to history so that we have different relationships with Pakistan and with India.”

It is understood that when US Ambassador to India David C Mulford’s deputy Mr Robert Blake called on officials of the Ministry of External Affairs here a few days back after the MNNA controversy erupted, he had stressed then on the same thing.

According to the State Department: “The relationship we have with India is based on a number of factors — economic, strategic, cooperation in a whole variety of areas. The most recent development, in fact, is a major step forward with what’s called the Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership.

The question of our cooperation with Pakistan is a separate one, it’s based on separate activities... and also the cooperation against terrorism.”

The Government of India views things differently in this regard. The so-called “cooperation against terrorism” is more of a tactical ploy than an honest policy decision because Islamabad embarks upon anti-terrorist operations only when an important visit takes place between Pakistan and USA.

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