US puts off Friends of Pak donors’ meet

As New Delhi reaches out to the world through aggressive dossier diplomacy,Islamabad is already facing the heat...

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: January 10, 2009 1:37 am

As New Delhi reaches out to the world through aggressive dossier diplomacy,Islamabad is already facing the heat — on the economic front — as the George Bush administration “puts off” a crucial donors’ conference by the newly-created “Friends of Pakistan”.

It is learnt that the meeting,which Islamabad was desperately looking forward to and was tentatively scheduled for January 15 in the “home stretch” of the Bush administration,has now been deferred till the new (Obama) administration takes charge.

Incidentally,most of the countries who attended at least one of the two meetings of the “Friends of Pakistan” — held in September 26 and on November 17 — were the ones whose nationals had been victims of the Mumbai terror attacks: the US,the UK,China,Germany,Canada,Japan,Australia and Italy. The ones who had not been victims of the attacks were Saudi Arabia,United Arab Emirates and France,but

New Delhi has reached

out to them through diplomatic channels and a detailed dossier,which Washington has described as “credible” evidence.

While it is not exactly clear whether the Bush administration’s decision to put off the “donor’s conference” was a direct outcome of New Delhi’s diplomatic offensive,there are indications that India is preparing grounds for “squeezing” Islamabad’s financial aid.

Washington,which is in touch with New Delhi at various levels,is being told to attach “conditions” in the financial aid programme which goes to Pakistan from various sources,including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These “conditions” will be in the form of “real action” on the terror front.

India is ready to reach out to the Obama administration — as President Obama takes charge on January 20 — and the strategic community feels that the initial “feelers” have been quite encouraging.

Those in the diplomatic circles take heart from Senator John Kerry’s statement in Islamabad — when he went there,after completing the New Delhi leg in mid-December — where he talked about linking the US military aid to action against the terrorist groups.

This was a positive sign emanating from the in coming administration,and those involved in New Delhi’s diplomatic campaign say that there will be “increased engagement” with Obama administration.

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