NATIONAL

U.S. explains disparity in aid

WASHINGTON, MARCH 3. The disparity in the budgetary allocations to India and Pakistan has to be seen in the context of a "different" relationship the United States has with those two countries; and when it comes to allocation to Islamabad much of it is directly related to the ongoing war on terrorism and with India it is one of dealing with a "growing world power," stressed the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Christina Rocca, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ms. Rocca was responding to a question from Senator Lincoln Chafee on the huge disparity in aid to Pakistan and India — $700 million versus $85 million — and the relationship between the dynamics of confronting this disparity and diplomacy with the two South Asian nations. The latest allocation to Pakistan includes $300 million in economic and $300 million in security assistance as the first instalment of a five-year $3 billion commitment.

"Our relationship with India is a different type of relationship... Pakistan is one of the frontline countries in the war on terror and lot of assistance that we are talking about providing to Pakistan is directly related to that issue," Ms. Rocca said.

"With India we have a different relationship. It is one with a growing world power. And our assistance there is really focussed on helping them with not only the remaining poverty but also with some of the economic problems which are still holding them back, such as their deficits. So we are providing technical assistance. It is on a different level from that which we need for Pakistan," the official said.

Ms. Rocca also said that India was a "provider" of assistance to Afghanistan as also in Iraq. "So it (India) is also providing a large amount of money in its own right. It puts it in a different category," the senior State Department official said. The official dealing with South Asian affairs was also asked if pumping so much money in military assistance to Pakistan was a good policy as opposed to economic aid.

"...it's still a frontline country in the war on terror. And the military assistance that we are providing is assistance that directly helps us fight that war, which is why we have got half and half, because we also want to be able to get to the root causes of extremism that exists in that region. So we have got half in military assistance and the other half in economic support funds and development assistance. So it is more than half and half actually," Ms. Rocca said.

Another administration official, Gordon West of USAID, said that the level of sophistication and educational attainment in India makes a rather difficult comparison with Pakistan.

"We actually see two countries with the south being almost a developed country... and the capacity of the Government and many states to manage their own affairs really puts it in a category where it increasingly is able to manage its own affairs," Mr. West remarked in reference to India.

"There are many policy decisions, strategic decisions that India must take. We are an active partner in many of those decisions. But increasingly India is seen as a country which is and should be expected to manage its own domestic affairs," he said.