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US pressure on India for talks with Pakistan will increase: Analyst
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi |
April 24, 2003 17:32 IST
The 'easing out' of American ambassador to India, Robert D Blackwill, by the Bush administration coupled with the likely visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to New Delhi would be to ratchet up pressure on the latter on Indo-Pak issues, a noted defence analyst said on Thursday.
US officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell have indicated that following the normalisation of the situation (establishing an interim administration) in Iraq, Washington will endeavour to get the Indo-Pak dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad started.
So far, no schedule has been finalised for Armitage's visit but government sources said it could be in early June this year.
"Ambassador Blackwill had to pay for his convergence of views with the Indian political leadership (on terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir). The Bush administration fresh from its military performance in Iraq has already started rewarding Pakistan (by waiving the $One billion debt) for its benign approach on the war in Iraq. It is making things easy for the Musharraf government. In contrast, India's anti-war parliamentary resolution has riled the Americans and I think they will mount pressure on us to normalise relations with Pakistan despite our objections," pointed out Dr R R Subramaniam of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis.
As an IDSA specialist in nuclear studies, he is also monitoring developments in Indo-Pak relations. "Armitage's likely visit to India will be an exploratory exercise by the senior US official to see how India reacts to the Bush administration's apparent tendency to equate New Delhi with Islamabad. I think that Ambassador Blackwill's successor in New Delhi is likely to push harder Washington's scheme of things in the South Asian region," Dr Subramaniam contended.
"Consequently, the Bush administration officials, especially the US Assistant Secretary of State (South Asia) Christina Rocca, Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz and Deputy Secretary Armitage will tirelessly aspire to bring India and Pakistan to the negotiating table," he pointed out.
He said that apart from the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, Islamabad wanted the Americans to help it on the contentious Indus Water Treaty agreement with India, which enjoys the topographical advantage on the issue. This is because of the six rivers of the Indus basin whose waters it aims to divide, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi on the eastern (Indian) side are at a lower level than the western (Pakistani) side having the Chenab, Jhelum and Sind. As a result, the water of only a Pakistani river can be diverted to an Indian one and not vice-versa.
"The Pakistanis have been telling Washington that their breadbasket stands endangered because of India's alleged intransigence on the treaty. The Pakistanis are keen to get this issue resolved so it is going to be a major aspect of the Indo-Pak dialogue which the US officials enivisage to start between the subcontinental neighbours," he pointed out.
A senior official of the external affairs ministry, however, contended that Armitage's New Delhi visit, when it fructifies, will largely be devoted to further improving Indo-US relations.
Referring to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's initiative on friendship with Pakistan, he cautioned both countries to ensure a 'level-playing field' if the dialogue was to proceed without hitches.
"We are waiting. If Pakistan reciprocates positively, the prime minister will set the ball rolling.
The US knows that as far as we are concerned, cross-border terrorism has to end and the infrastructure for terrorism has to be dismantled. Besides, the other party has to take cognisance that the dialogue has to be within the framework of the Indian Constitution," the official said