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US soft towards Pak, sharp, on India - The Hindustan Times

N. C. Menon ()
May 30, 1998

Title: US soft towards Pak, sharp, on India
Author: N. C. Menon
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: May 30, 1998

It was clear yesterday from the reactions of the US
administration to the five nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan
that the Kissinger-era tilt" against India is still there.

Referring to President Clinton's efforts to dissuade Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif from testing, White House spokesman Mike
McCurry had this comment: "I think it would be accurate to say
that the Prime Minister clearly struggled with what was
apparently, for him, a very difficult decision. He knew the
costs, he understood exactly the President's argument... but I
think he clearly felt the pressure and the burden of both
domestic political opinion and also the reality of the pressure
he faced in the region because of the decision by India. He
sounded, in short, like someone who is very pained by a very
difficult decision."

McCurry also suggested that although the Glenn amendment's
sanctions were automatic, there was a qualitative difference, to
India's disadvantage, in which the two nations had dealt with the
nuclear issue. "The tonal quality of the way we have addressed
this decision by Pakistan, I would suggest to you is different,
and we would acknowledge that there is a difference in the way
these two Governments have dealt with the United States with
respect to this test," he said. "Prime Minister Sharif was honest
and straightforward in the description of tie decision that he
was wrestling with and in his own internal deliberations. And the
Government of India was manifestly not."

Speaking to newsmen yesterday, even acting Secretary of State
Strobe Talbot, an eminently fair individual who referred to the
futility of trying to ascribe "where the original sin lies," got
carried away by the mood of the moment, and weighed in, in favour
of Pakistan. Pointing out that Pakistan was under tremendous
pressure after India's tests, Talbot said: "I was in Islamabad
with several colleagues a couple of weeks ago and one thing that
was very clear to us was that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his
colleagues understood out arguments. They listened to our
arguments, they played very straight with us. They said they were
under immense pressure as a result of public opinion,
parliamentary pressure and as a result of the dynamics of the

State Department spokesman James Rubin also had no problem
Braking sides. Asked about the China angle complicating the Indo-
Pak nuclear matrix, Rubin acknowledged that the US had had to
express extreme concern over the years about the transfer of
technology from China to Pakistan. "What is incorrect is to make
that problem the proximate cause of the current crisis," he said.
"The cause was the nationalist Government in India determined to
explode nuclear weapons, which forced Pakistan to respond."

Incidentally, various individuals within the Clinton
administration seem to have the most exaggerated notions of the
efficacy of US sanctions. Rubin has been waxing eloquent for days
about the dire straits that India faces as a direct result of US
economic displeasure. Yesterday it was McCurry's turn. He
asserted that the initial euphoria both in India and Pakistan
about the tests would turn sour when people realised the price
they had to pay. "You can read the reports today of power that is
not available in New Delhi, the price that the citizens of India
are going to pay for this decision by its Government.." Anyone
>from the US envoy in India to the lowest custodial staff at the
American embassy in Chanakyapuri could have told McCurry that
power failures in summer were hardy annuals in New Delhi, and had
little to do with US sanctions.

The White House spokesman admitted that some in the American
business community complaint that the effect of unilateral
sanctions is "to put US companies at risk to those foreign
Governments that will not adopt similar sanctions and will go
ahead and exchange commerce and goods and services with. both
countries." That was the price the US had to pay for the way it
used sanctions as an instrument of diplomacy, he added.

Deputy Secretary Talbot added a new wringle to that. Pointing out
that the US was working iwth other nations to develop a plan for
international and multilateral efforts to curb India and
Pakistan, Talbot commented: "The US clearly has been more robust
with application of sanctions, but that is in many ways
appropriate: We see ourselves as having the opportunity and
responsibility in leading the international community." That is
just the kind of comment that raises hackles in such capitals as

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