Pressing Pakistan hard

With desperate urge for currying favour with India so as to secure lucrative contracts for nuclear equipment and technology for American firms, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was more-than-unusual trenchant in criticising Pakistan for its counter-terrorism policy, while at New Delhi on Tuesday. Addressing a joint press conference with Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna after the second round of Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, she pledged “full” support to India’s efforts to protect itself from terror attacks and said that the US would press Pakistan as “hard” as it could on the terrorism issue.

“We do not believe that there are any terrorists who should be given safe haven or a free pass by any government, because left unchecked the consequences of that kind of terrorist activity or intimidation can become very difficult to manage and control,” she remarked, undoubtedly, with an eye to Pakistan’s view of the Haqqani group and India’s accusation against Lashkar-e-Taiba of involvement in 2008 Mumbai attacks. She added that the US had made it clear to Pakistan, after these attacks, to bring the perpetrators to justice.

While the US criticism cannot be divorced from the general American stand of what it perceives to be Pakistan’s failure to sufficiently combat the terrorist scourge, there was another motive at work behind Secretary Clinton’s harangue. After all, the US had gone out of its way to give India the privilege of striking a ‘civilian’ nuclear deal with it, in disregard of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a sensitive instrument of international law the accession to which by the non-signatory states the US had itself, before the terrorism menace reared its head, made a cornerstone of its foreign policy.

But it was not just making India a bulwark against the spread of Chinese influence, though this might be the principal objective, that Washington favoured it with the nuclear deal and incurred the ire of fair-minded nations. It was keen, even as an offshoot, to reap economic benefits from the contracts that would automatically flow from this deal, but, to its dismay, the US finds its giant corporations like Westinghouse and General Electric being edged out by the French firms. – Nation