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US seen losing its leverage with India

US seen losing its leverage with India

Author: Our Political Bureau
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: May 17, 2002

US Ambassador, Robert D Blackwell, today called on the Union home minister L K Advani, amid clear indications that the latest terrorist outrage in J&K may have severely undermined America's leverage with India.

Emerging from the meeting, Mr Blackwell was unusually taciturn and confined himself to 'echoing' US president, George Bush's condemnation of the Tuesday massacre. He underlined that both his President as well as the US assistant secretary of state, Christina Rocca, had termed the killings as handiwork of terrorists.

Pre-September 11, this formulation would have been deemed satisfactory by the Indian establishment which tried hard to counter the "freedom struggle spin" Pakistan puts on the killings of innocent civilians by jehadis. Now, however, India wants the US to move beyond stating the obvious and lean on Pakistan to rein in jehadis.

With the US unable to tighten the screws on Pervez Musharrafs regime, India's patience has worn thin. What has contributed to New Delhi's reservations is the US' willingness to take Pakistan's disclaimers - on issues such as infiltration -at face value.

The strains were also indicated by the government's refusal to let Ms Rocca meet the defence minister George Fernandes. The US official who had arrived on a peace promotion mission had to acknowledge that the Jammu massacre had frustrated her plans.

India, which went out of the way to accommodate US concerns that a Indo-Pak war could jeopardise the latter's war against Al Qaeda, feels it is time the Americans reciprocated.

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