| Members of an Indian parliamentary delegation at the Wagah checkpost on their return from Pakistan on Wednesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, June 25: The $3-billion financial package for Pakistan that the US announced yesterday may be withheld unless the Pervez Musharraf regime shows tangible progress in areas like curbing terrorism and nuclear proliferation and restoring democracy.
The aid package, half of which is earmarked for military purchase, was announced after a meeting at Camp David between US President George W. Bush and Musharraf. The $3 billion will be given to Islamabad over a period of five years.
“It is a process which has just begun. But a lot will depend on whether Pakistan takes America’s concerns on some of the crucial issues seriously or not,” a South Block official said.
Another factor that may have played a role in making the conditions tighter is the possibility of India joining the US effort to stabilise Iraq.
Though India has been watching the developments closely, it has so far not made any public comments. But South Block insiders pointed out that though there is nothing to be alarmed about, a lot would depend on how the process that has been started yesterday evolves over the next few years.
Matching the Indian view, the New York Times said Bush has offered a “tightly conditioned” package to Pakistan. Quoting a senior US official, it said: “Mr Bush had made clear that the new package of aid was dependent on continued cooperation in battling terrorism and a permanent end to assisting the North Korean nuclear programme.”
The official, the paper added, also said Musharraf, who has publicly denied that his country aided North Korea in building uranium-enrichment facilities, told the US President he understood that any kind of military aid is “a no-go area”.
The aid package, particularly the part on military purchase, remains undefined. There are, however, indications that though the F-16 fighter planes have been denied, the US is looking into Pakistan’s request for the Hawkeye and Orion — sophisticated Airborne Warning and Control Systems.
But sources in the Indian establishment pointed out that much of what Pakistan is likely to get as military hardware has already been shared by Washington with Delhi and there was nothing to be alarmed about the package.
The aid package, Indian officials said, is for “services rendered” by the Pakistan President to the US in its fight against al Qaida and to bolster his image at home. That Bush has made it clear that Musharraf needs to take action against terrorists active in Kashmir was also an indication that Washington will watch Islamabad’s actions.
There are, however, sections in India which feel that the outcome of the Camp David meeting has been a major setback for India. They argued that Bush has publicly announced what he is offering Pakistan to show the importance he gives to Musharraf, but the so called commitment made by Musharraf to Bush was done in private.
But others pointed out that there are clear indications that Musharraf will be closely watched. The aid package as well as the military hardware can only go through after getting congressional approval, they said.
They pointed to reports in the American media which quoted a US official as saying that Musharraf understands that failure to “democratise, curb terrorism and stop proliferation” would halt aid.