India Says US End to Sanctions on Pakistan Sends ‘Wrong Signals’
The US decision to lift sanctions against Pakistan's military government will send "wrong signals" to all democratic countries, India's Junior Foreign Minister Omar Abdullah said Sunday.
"It would appear that democracy is no longer the prime concern for even democratic countries like the United States, but it is the fight against terrorism" which is more important, Abdullah told the Press Trust of India.
US President George W. Bush last week announced a lifting of sanctions against India and Pakistan imposed after the arch rivals conducted tit-for-tat nuclear blasts in 1998.
Washington had hinted for months it would drop the measures against India, but lifted the sanctions on both countries after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Islamabad would cooperate with the United States following the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime, recognized only by Pakistan, is believed to be sheltering Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, chief suspect in the attacks that left more than 6,000 dead and missing.
The Indian minister said Musharraf was "caught between a rock and a hard place," as he risked angering Islamic hard-liners by supporting the United States, which was bent on revenge.
"On the one hand, [the Pakistanis] have to deal with their own creation, the Taliban, while on the other there were compulsions on how far to go with their support to the USA," he said.
Abdullah said Washington also seemed to be taking note of India's concerns over "cross-border terrorism" in Kashmir, where an Islamic insurgency has claimed more than 35,000 lives since 1989.
"Only time will tell what the USA will do," Abdullah said.
India accuses Pakistan of backing the militants in the disputed Himalayan territory, but Islamabad says it provides only moral and diplomatic support to an indigenous movement.
Abdullah also said India was continuing to support the Taliban-opposed Northern Alliance "in every way we think is important."
India has offered logistical support to the United States, including the refueling of aircraft, for military action against Afghanistan -- NEW DELHI (AFP)
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