PM allays fear of Pakistan, China
Confident Parliament and people will back him
From H.K. Dua
Washington, July 20
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wound up his momentous visit to the US by assuring both Pakistan and China that what had been achieved in Washington was not directed against any other country.
In remarks clearly aimed at Pakistan, he said he had not come to Washington to use it against any other country. The outcome of the visit would benefit the whole of South Asia.
He also told newsmen that India would continue with its “constructive engagement” with China.
The country had peace and tranquility along its border with China since 1963. India always wanted good relations with its eastern neighbour.
The outcome of the visit would ensure balance in Asia and round the world, he added.
The assurance to both Pakistan and China had become necessary in view of the reports that Pakistan was feeling concerned about the emerging relationship between India and the United States. Also, the US analysts and commentators were suggesting that the US had decided to co-opt India as a countervailing force against China.
At the end of the visit, the Prime Minister’s mood was upbeat. He was sure that on his return to India he would be able to carry the people, his partners in the ruling UPA, other political parties and Parliament on what he had achieved in his talks with President Bush.
He said he was sure that his coalition partners, as also other political parties and Parliament would support the initiatives he was taking to improve relations with the United States, Pakistan and China, “in the larger interest of the country”.
Dr Manmohan Singh said he would make a suo motu statement on the US visit in Parliament on his return to India.
The Prime Minister’s attention was drawn to the reports from New Delhi that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had criticised the joint statement on the ground that it tended to separate military and civil nuclear facilities for international inspections and that this would harm India’s security interests.
Dr Manmohan Singh said separating military and civil facilities was a national decision. He added that the country would enjoy autonomy of decisions while separating civil and military components of its strategic nuclear installations.
He said he had not seen what Mr Vajpayee had said but cautioned against views based on misconceptions.
Dr Manmohan Singh’s attention was drawn to the noises the anti-non-proliferation lobbies were making about the arrangement President Bush had worked out with him on cooperation in the nuclear field.
He was asked whether in view of this he was sure India would ultimately get nuclear reactors to go ahead with its new energy plans.
The Prime Minister said that President Bush was a sincere person and so were the large number of US Senators and Congressmen who had met him. Dr Manmohan Singh said he was confident that what the US had promised would become “a living reality”.
The Prime Minister would be returning to India with the belief that he and President Bush had brought about a qualitative change in the relations between the two countries.
The implications of the joint statement they issued yesterday are being analysed by experts across the United States, but the Indians feel that India has got what it wanted.
India’s gain is that the injustice done to it after the 1974 and 1998 Pokharan nuclear tests, when the US imposed sanctions on it and stopped supply of nuclear and high technology India badly needed, has been undone.
Now, President Bush has agreed to take steps to ensure that India will get nuclear fuel for its reactors for producing energy. It will also get high technology for space research and other sensitive areas.
The Bush administration is sure that it will be able to push through necessary legislation in the Congress to remove sanctions India has been subjected to for several years.
Indians are also happy that the lifting of the sanctions amount to India’s recognition as a nuclear state by implication. India, under the joint statement, has the same rights and obligations, as the members of the nuclear club.
It has, of course, reiterated its moratorium on tests, and its policy against supplying nuclear material and know-how to any other country.
In the US, most analysts see the India-US agreement as Washington’s desire to build India as a countervailing influence against the rise of China.
But there is a worry here among some sections about how Pakistan will take the kind of status India has acquired in US eyes. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in fact, telephoned President Pervez Musharraf last night to reassure Pakistan that it would continue to remain important in Washington’s scheme of things.
There is another anxiety among analysts here. Some of them think that the US attempts to stop Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons will suffer a serious setback, now that the US has virtually endorsed India’s status as a weapons state.