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Irritants to Calibration
Network, September 1993
The celebrated calibrated approach of Indian Foreign Secretary Dixit to New Delhi-US Relations has engrossed diplomatic observers during the past year or so. During a visit to Cambridge University in July, Foreign Secretary Dixit speaking to reporters, put it rather bluntly: ''Anybody with any comprehension of the context, nature and substance of US-Pakistan relations will know that US is not likely to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.''
Dixit went on to describe this 'nature and substance' as the cosy relationship between the Pentagon and Pakistani armed forces, the rapport between the Pakistani and American intelligence agencies, and the American perception of Pakistan as a geo strategic entity in the Gulf that could be essential for American interests.
From the US side, a recent study undertaken by the in house US Congress think tank (the Congress Research Service) says that the biggest burden that impinges on ties between Washington and Delhi is the 'long standing India-Pakistan regional rivalry'. (A New Delhi insider remarked: 'But then, they would say that, would'nt they?)
The CRS Report which was released this month notes that US and Congressional attitudes have been particularly affected by the 'deepening bitterness in ties between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute and the ongoing Indian preoccupation with China as a long standing source of strategic threat.'
It notes that the human rights situation in Kashmir had worsened since late 1992 and that several international human rights groups have 'cited Indian security forces for escalating the level of violence in 1993, including firing on demonstrators, burning large sections of the towns of Srinagar and Sopore and allegedly killing several prominent Kashmiri human rights activists.'
The Report was written by Barbara Leitch Lopoer, a South Asia specialist in the CRS's foreign affairs and national defence unit. The CRS functions under statutory charter and works exclusively as a research arm for Congress members and committees to support their legislative and other functions.
The CRS Report says that the end of the bipolar world has made India's 'traditional, though often symbolic, role as a leader of the non aligned world essentially obsolete.' Compounding these developments have been 'rivalries with neighbours, separatist tendencies and sectarian tensions' which continue to 'divert attention and resources from basic needs of economic and social development.'
Consequently, the Report notes, 'fall out from these unresolved problems-particularly nuclear arms proliferation and human rights issues-present serious irritants in US - Indian relations.'.
Significantly, the Report points out that the heads of Russia, Germany and Britain, who visited Delhi in early 1993, called upon India to sign the Nuclear Non proliferation Treaty and to scale back its military spending.
Meanwhile the study adds 'Japan which is the largest aid donor for both India and Pakistan' announced stricter foreign aid guidelines, 'particularly for countries that engage in excessive military spending and questionable nuclear activities.'
It is reported that the third round of the long delayed nuclear talks between India and US scheduled for mid September will be 'testy'. Apparently as a softening up process, it has been put about, that State Department officials have been irritated by Delhi's recent anti-US rhetoric, judged 'harsh by even Indian standards.' Foreign Secretary Dixit may not be amused.