Monday, Mar 28, 2005
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By Neena Vyas
NEW DELHI, MARCH 27. The former External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, believes that the American sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan and its "offer" of F-16s and F-18s to India will have an adverse impact not only on the India-Pakistan peace process but also on India-U.S. relations.
While the U.S. has made a concrete offer to sell F-16s to Pakistan, which "surely they [in the Bush administration] do not expect Pakistan to use against terrorists," their offer to India is only a "bunch of promises," Mr. Sinha told The Hindu here this evening. Even if the Americans were to deliver on their offer to India, which he thought was "most unlikely," he saw such a deal as "setting up an arms race in South Asia."
Mr. Sinha also wanted to know whether the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, had taken the Indian Government into confidence over the offer to Pakistan during her recent visit to New Delhi. "... If she did, why didn't the Government take the nation into confidence?"
He found the whole thing "deeply disturbing" as every time there was a forward movement in India-U.S. relations, the Americans did something to put it back. He also objected to the U.S. "hyphenating India and Pakistan."
"The Government of India should protest strongly. It was disconcerting to hear the Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, say that the Government would consider the American offer."
Mr. Sinha wondered what the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, would discuss with the Prime Minister during his visit here, ostensibly to watch a cricket match.
"Already in his recent statements, one can see that he (Gen. Musharraf) has upped his ante. Is this a result of the U.S. offer of F-16s?" he asked.
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