NATIONAL

India concerned, relieved at Bush-Musharraf talks

SHANGHAI June 26. India appears both concerned and relieved at the recent talks between the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, and his American counterpart, George W. Bush, at Camp David.

While expressing concern over the military component of the $ 3 billion economic package announced by the U.S. for Pakistan, officials told this correspondent that the "package" itself would become operational from 2005.

The time-frame and the fact that certain "conditions" placed on Pakistan such as dealing with extremism and democracy, non-proliferation and democracy are a signal to Islamabad that the package is not a "blank cheque".

According to the officials, Pakistan has a long shopping list for military equipment, including AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System). However, it is not clear what position the Bush administration would take on the list.

The Indian side, however, is aware that the package would, in all likelihood, include assistance for upgrading Pakistan's existing F-16 aircraft and spares for these ageing planes.

Officials are clear that the "package'' and the talks do represent an "upgradation" in the relationship between Pakistan and the U.S.

On the pitch made by the Pakistan President for greater American involvement in India-Pakistan relations, it is clear that Washington does not envisage for itself the role Gen. Musharraf is hoping for.

Asked about Gen. Musharraf's statement that he was willing to send troops to Iraq under the auspices of the United Nations, or the Gulf Cooperation Council or the Organisation of Islamic Conference — and its possible impact on India's own decision in this regard — the officials said this would not queer the pitch for New Delhi.

Gen. Musharraf is possibly aware that there is no U.N. mandate, the OIC will not agree to the deployment of foreign troops under its banner in Iraq, and in the Indian assessment, neither will the GCC.

Any Indian decision would be taken on the basis of the ground situation and a consideration of other factors. The officials said it had been noted that there had been a recent upswing on attacks on coalition forces, especially the recent killing of British military police personnel in Iraq.

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