India voices concern over US military aid to Pakistan (Lead)

July 24th, 2010 - 12:34 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) India Friday again raised its concerns over the billions of dollars worth US military aid to Pakistan and asked America to set up a monitoring system to ensure that the weapons meant for war against terror were not used against it. However, there was no clear assurance from Washington on the issue.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony during his meeting with Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked the US to establish a “monitoring mechanism” to ensure that Pakistan uses the military aid in its war against terror and not against India, official sources said.

“Antony conveyed to him (Mullen) the Indian concern over the US aid to Pakistan and told him that it should only be used to fight terror. The amount of aid to Pakistan is disproportionate and is much more than needed to fight terror,” an official privy to the meeting told IANS.

Mullen did not give any clear assurance but said the US’ relationship with Pakistan was based on trust and the spirit reflected in its ties with India.

“It is the relationship (between US and Pakistan) based on trust and undersranding,” he told reporters.

In a balancing act, he said the cooperation between India and the US “is very reflective of the growing relationship along with trust”.

“At the same time, I understand the concerns that have been raised with respect to selling (weapons) to Pakistan. I encouraged the leadership to keep those issues on the table. I understand the concerns and at the same I don’t believe that we sold any weapon to Pakistan which greatly imbalances the capabilities between the two countries,” the admiral said.

Asked if the US would take action or atleast take a re-look at the assistance if India provided evidence of misuse by Pakistan, Mullen said it was a “hypothetical” statement but said if there was a change in use of the weapon systems, the US would look at it.

“As far as the systems that we are selling them and providing them, they are systems that very specifically are to be used and have been used against the terrorist within their own country,” he said.

In their 45-minute meeting at the South Block, Mullen, according to sources, apprised the Indian defence minister about the American assessment of the security situation prevailing in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

He said the US also shared Indian concerns about terrorism and warned that the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attack, was operating on the global scale now.

“In fact I have been very concerned about the potential of another attack like (26/11) that. The LeT is not just operating in Pakistan, but they are operating in Afghanistan and Bangladesh also. They are operating more globally than they had been operating in 2008,” he said.

The LeT’s “global aspirations”, he said, is a more reason “why we (the US and India) have to work together and also with Pakistan”.

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