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India ‘cautiously watching’ gradual shift in US’ Pak policy

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on January 02, 2018

US President Donald Trump (file photo).   -  Reuters

‘Won’t take an official position unless US military aid is formally stopped’

India is carefully watching the developments taking place in the bilateral ties between Pakistan and its long-standing ally America a day after US President Donald Trump chided Pakistan for not doing enough in its counterterrorism efforts and threatening to stop the flow of military aid to the tune of $255 million to Islamabad.

While the Indian government went into a jubilant mood with Minister of State Jitendra Prasad stating that Trump’s statement had “abundantly vindicated” India’s position on Pakistan being a sanctuary for terrorists, it was China’s entry into the scene that changed the game.

Awaiting formal steps

The Centre is believed to be “closely and cautiously watching” the developments, and it will not take an official position unless the US military aid is formally stopped, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government held a wide-ranging meeting with all the stakeholders of their National Security Committee in Islamabad on Tuesday, and urged the US government to review its decision on stopping the military aid, which might have an “adverse impact” on their ‘War on Terror’ in Afghanistan, said diplomatic sources.

A top official of the Pakistani government told BusinessLine that the US military aid enjoys a bipartisan support, and it will not be a trouble-free task because the final decision has to be taken by the US Congressional Appropriations Committee, and Trump with his executive powers can only delay its disbursement.

US military aid to Pakistan is disbursed through mainly three channels — an economic component, a defence component and a coalition support fund. Besides, the official said, the military aid is a minuscule part of the US-Pakistan bilateral relationship.

Pakistan believes that blocking military aid will not prove to be beneficial to the US as it “cannot be forced to do what it does not want to do.”

The official also said this will not hamper India-Pakistan ties.

Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Space, had said on Monday that Trump administration’s decision has vindicated India’s stand as far as terror and Pakistan’s role in perpetrating terror is concerned.

‘Diplomatic leverage’

“This is surely a vindication of India’s stand. But in many ways, we tend to think this is not about India,” said Harsh V Pant, Head of Strategic Studies Programme, Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

“This is actually about the US and Pakistan. But the move taken by the US certainly opens up a channel for diplomatic leverage. We need to exploit this diplomatic opportunity.”

In 2009, the US Congress approved the ‘Enhanced Partnership for Pakistan Act’ that permitted tripling of US aid to Pakistan.

On Monday, Trump said in a tweet: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more.”

China supports Pakistan

Meanwhile, China said the international community should recognise Pakistan’s effort in combating terror and the several steps it has taken towards counterterrorism efforts.

“We have said many times that Pakistan has put forth great effort and made great sacrifices in combating terrorism. It has made a prominent contribution to global anti-terror efforts. The international community should fully recognise this,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Tuesday.

Published on January 02, 2018
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