There is universal opposition in India to the supply of sophisticated arms to Pakistan

28592 3/11/2005 1:19:00 PM 05NEWDELHI1921 Embassy New Delhi CONFIDENTIAL 05NEWDELHI364 This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. C O N F I D E N T I A L NEW DELHI 001921 SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/11/2015

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PARM, MASS, PK, IN, External Political Relations

SUBJECT: US ARMS SUPPLIES TO PAKISTAN BACK IN THE PUBLIC SPOTLIGHT

REF: A. NEW DELHI 364 B. 04 NEW DELHI 7774 C. 04 NEW DELHI 7571

Classified By: DCM Robert O. Blake, Jr. for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)

1. (C) Summary: With Secstate Rice due to arrive in India March 15, and with political memories still fresh from the announcement of major non-NATO Ally status for Pakistan last March, the issue of F-16 sales to Pakistan is rising. Indian concern regarding the F-16 issue is reflected in a series of GOI statements, including that of Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed, who stated in Parliament on March 9, that while the Indo-Pak dialogue process was moving forward, the US transfer of arms to Pakistan would impact on Indian goodwill for the US. During the January visit of Codel Leach, Indian MPs expressed similar concerns, describing US arms sales to Pakistan as an "irritant," in the US/India relationship (Ref A). There is bipartisan consensus on this issue, as the BJP and Congress have voiced similar objections (Refs B and C). End Summary

2. (U) On March 9 Minister Ahamed responded to a parliamentary question about India/Pakistan Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), raised by two Congress party MPs. He noted that the India/Pakistan dialogue process "was taken significantly forward8 by FonMin Natwar Singh,s February 15-17 visit to Islamabad. An MP and Embassy contact who lived for many years in New York, then asked whether India has conveyed &serious concerns to the US regarding its alleged arms sales to Pakistan8 at a time when the Indo-Pak dialogue has reached &a sensitive stage.8 Minister Ahamed replied that the GOI had expressed &India,s strong concern8 regarding the &repercussions of arms sales to Pakistan, including on the ongoing India-Pakistan dialogue, at high levels to the US government,8 and that "such transfers will impact on the goodwill for the US in India.8

3. (C) MEA Join Secretary S. Jaishankar also raised the F-16's issue in a March 11 meeting with the DCM, noting a "surge of rumors" regarding a possible US decision. Jaishankar remarked that an F-16 announcement would be a "huge deal," in which the government would lose the initiative. "We will all get caught up in a process beyond our control," he averred. DCM responded that decision-makers in Washington are well aware of Indian concerns.

Comment

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4. (C) There is universal opposition in India to the supply of sophisticated arms to Pakistan, with the F-16 aircraft symbolizing a US commitment to upgrading the Pakistani armed forces. The Secstate visit has raised new fears among the GOI that it could again be blindsided by an announcement in Islamabad, this time concerning new weapons supplies. With Parliament now engaged, the issue is certain to be raised in the Secretary's New Delhi media interactions.

MULFORD