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India wants benchmarks for US aid to Pakistan

Stating that India welcomes economic assistance to Pakistan, India's Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar has favoured establishment of benchmarks to the American security assistance to Islamabad so as to check the use of money against New Delhi.

world Updated: Jun 30, 2009 10:56 IST

Stating that India welcomes economic assistance to Pakistan, the country's top diplomat in the United States has favoured establishment of benchmarks to the American security assistance to Islamabad so as to check the use of money against New Delhi.

"We certainly share the objective of the United States that we should help to stabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan and move them in the direction of both stability and moderation," India's Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar said.

There is a shared objective that India has with the United States, Shankar said at a panel discussion organised by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

"As to how best we can pursue the achievement of this objective, well, we support the flow of assistance to Pakistan, particularly economic assistance, which we think is essential at this stage given the very precarious state of Pakistan's economy," Shankar said in response to a question.

The ambassador said the security assistance to Pakistan should be focused specifically on building counterinsurgency capabilities rather than conventional defense equipment.

"The pursuit of the objectives that we share would certainly be easier if there are benchmarks to ensure that the assistance is linked to deliverables on the ground and that there is both transparency and accountability in the process," Shankar said.

During their meetings with US officials and law makers, a delegation of Indian parliamentarians last week had also argued the same and asked Washington to ensure that its security assistance to Pakistan is not used to build up its military against India, as has been the case in the past.

Shankar said India does compare its relationship with the US's relationship with any other country. "We would hope that the US would give priority to India on its own merits," she said.

Referring to the upcoming trip of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to India next month, Shankar hoped that it will provide the basis for both countries announcing a road map to take the India-US relationship to the next level.

Asked about Reliance's relationship with Iran and if this could have any impact on India-US relationship, Shankar commented that should not be the case.

"That (Reliance) is a private company, so I can't say what the private company will do. It is not a government company. But we have a relationship with Iran, and what interests me is that US companies also, through some of their subsidiaries, have relationships with Iran in the energy sector. So I think singling out a particular country is not very good," Shankar argued.

"We also see that Pakistan and Iran have signed an agreement on their gas pipeline. That doesn't figure as a condition for aid to Pakistan. So there are double standards operating here," said the Indian Ambassador.