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Pak's dream of American backing on J&K shattered

Pak's dream of American backing on J&K shattered

Author: Report by Chidanand Rajghatta
Publication: The Times of India
Date: December 12, 2001.

Washington:  As Pakistan fights an uphill  battle to be relevant in a post-Taliban Afghanistan, it has suffered the biggest blow from the country expected to be its chief patron - the U. S..

Almost every assumption that Islamabad's military regime made while reversing its diplomatic course - protecting its nuclear assets, position on Kashmir, and reviving its economy among others - is coming unstuck.

Relentless exposure in the western media about the links of Pakistani nuclear scientists with terrorists has now brought its nuclear programme under the inevitable scrutiny of the Americans.  Washington has also shown no inclination of backing Islamabad's position on Kashmir and has instead pointedly refused to endorse the "they're freedom fighters not terrorists" line.

According to some acco8unts, CIA director George tenet, during a visit to Pakistan last week, demanded greater access to the Pakistani nuclear establishment for interrogating potential rogue scientists, including two of them sent on a "sabbatical' to Myanmar.

In fact, the story about the two scientist being parked in Myanmar was first reported by the Indian intelligence, pointing to a new cooperation between New Delhi and Washington on proliferation matters.

While Washington publicly professes to help Pakistan revive its economy the ground realities are turning out to be different.  An American crackdown on financial transactions from Islamic countries has virtually paralysed the Pakistani banking operation sin the U.S.

Washington is also "helping" Pakistan institute security system at its airports to monitor the suspicious traffic, and similar uninvited help may be underway at its nuclear installations too.

But in what may be the cruellest cut, the domestic American textile lobby has skippered the Bush administration's effort to secure tarrif reductions for Pakistani textiles.  Ironically, the opposition came fro0m Senator Jesse Helms, not too long back an ardent Islamabad supporter.

In a recent letter to secretary of state Colin Powell, Mr Helms railed against Wendy Chamberlain, the U. S. ambassador to Pakistan, who reportedly suggested that it was the 'patriotic duty' of Americans to purchase imported textile products from Pakistan to save its economy.

Pointing out that the U. S. textile and apparel industry had lost 60,000 jobs during the past year, including 20,000 in his home state of North Carolina alone, Mr Helms said U.S. workers "deserve better than to hear U.S. officials recommend the purchase of even more imported goods by Americans under the guise of patriotism.  U. S. diplomats should always be mindful that cheerleading for foreign industry has serious implications for the national psyche."

Although the administration has promised to find a way around the boondoggle  (By allowing 'non-threatening' items like carpets and footballs for instance), it does not add up to the kind of reward Pakistan anticipated.

The one place where Pakistan has found succour is the international lending institutions, including the IMF, where it has found the kind of sympathy that has left countries like Argentine fuming.

A persistent U.S. campaign that it is important for international community not to allow the Pakistan economy to capsize has led to hefty infusion of capital although it comes with severe conditionalities.

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