Sat, 05 Feb 2000

Towards a sound relationship

The first visit by an American President to this country in the post-Cold War era raises hopes that bilateral relations, caught in the vicissitudes of an ideological war for most of half a century, will be allowed to take a more sound and stable course. Mr. Bill Clinton's extended sojourn in this country, which will apparently take him to a few other centers apart from New Delhi, will hopefully give a qualitative push to the relationship, imparting a long-needed new orientation.

The Clinton Presidency's strident advocacy of (nuclear) non- proliferation had for far too long distorted the relationship to the detriment of longer-term opportunities. With the American Senate, through partisan considerations, sidelining his one-point global agenda and unintentionally easing the pressure for nuclear surrender by India, and with many common interests between the two countries surfacing in the wake of the Cold War's end, the visit can serve to redefine the relations.

Striking a discordant note, however, is the hardly concealed concern in New Delhi over plans for a Clinton stopover in Pakistan on his way to India. It is not India's business to decide what quality of relationship the U.S. has with the countries in the subcontinent or elsewhere and it is not in good grace to campaign against the planned Pakistan visit. A Clinton stopover in Pakistan, signaling a desire to keep the Musharraf regime engaged, need not necessarily mean that Washington is back to playing the old game of equating the two countries.

-- The Hindu, New Delhi