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Obama's endorsement for India's UNSC bid dismays Pak

Source: PTI
November 09, 2010 22:33 IST
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Taken by surprise by United States President Barack Obama's endorsement of India's bid to gain permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, the Pakistan foreign office called in the US envoy to convey its concerns over the move.

Though it had an inkling that Obama might make a major announcement during his visit to India, the foreign ministry was shocked by the announcement, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

Obama's remarks welcoming "India as it prepares to take its seat on the United Nations Security Council," made in the course of his address to Indian Parliament on Monday, shocked and dismayed the mandarins of the foreign office, the sources said.

The foreign office issued a statement shortly after Obama's address in which it expressed its opposition to the US backing for India's efforts to enter the UNSC while foreign secretary Salman Bashir conveyed Islamabad's disappointment to American envoy Cameron Munter during a meeting on Monday night.

Munter was called in to the foreign office, where Bashir conveyed Pakistan's apprehensions and concerns over the stand taken by Obama, the sources said.

Pakistan's military leadership is expected to take up the same issue with General David Patraeus, the commander of US and allied forces in Afghanistan, when he visits Islamabad on November 12, the sources said.

Ahead of Obama's visit to India, the foreign office had received indications from Washington that he might make some major announcement while in New Delhi.

In an apparent reaction to these indications, the foreign office had said in a statement issued on November 5 that called on the US not to grant any concession to India that could affect the strategic balance in South Asia.

During a briefing to parliament's special committee on Kashmir on Obama's visit to India, the foreign office made it clear that "anything that militates against the regional balance in South Asia is counter-productive and not in the interest of the region and the world."

The foreign office also said during that briefing that it was against Obama expressing any endorsement for India's move to become a permanent member of the UNSC as such a move would have "negative effects on issues relating to peace and security in South Asia."

However, sources said that even at that stage, the foreign office had no knowledge that Obama would make such a forthright endorsement of India's bid to gain a seat at the high table.

Officials of the foreign office on Tuesday sought solace in interpreting that Obama had not made any commitment to work with India on the issue of gaining permanent membership of the security council.

They contended the US President had only offered indirect support to India and that the process of reforming the security council would be complicated and long drawn.

In the statement issued on Tuesday, the foreign office listed "India's conduct in relations with its neighbours and its continued flagrant violations of security council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir" as reasons why it should not be given permanent membership of the UN's most important organ.

Pakistani analysts and policy-makers are also hoping that China, often described as an "all-weather friend," will use its veto power to stymie India's efforts to gain permanent membership of the security council.
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