18 March 2004
The Times of India
Ally badge for Pak, India stunned
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
NEW DELHI: The American designation of Pakistan as a 'major non-Nato ally' (MNNA) on Thursday morning caught India unawares and sent the external affairs ministry more used to basking in the glory of its strategic partnership with the US quite literally reeling.
There was no official reaction but by evening, when the 'feel bad' mood in the government became obvious, the US embassy sent its number two man, Robert Blake, to do some fire fighting in South Block.
The announcement was made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at a press conference in Islamabad.
"I advised the foreign minister (of Pakistan) this morning that we will also be making notification to our Congress that we will designate Pakistan as a major non-Nato ally for purposes of our future military relations," he said, adding, "President Bush and the American people appreciate the sacrifices Pakistan already has made to keep us all safer from terrorism."
"The timing is bad", a senior Indian official told The Times of India , admitting that Powell gave no indication of the proposed decision in his meetings with PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday.
Pakistan will join the list of MNNAs , which includes Israel, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Jordan, Argentina, Bahrain, Thailand and the Philippines , 30 days after Bush notifies Congress in writing.
"In legal terms, I don't think MNNA status will add much to what the US is already doing for Pakistan," the official said, "but it has very strong political significance both domestically, in Pakistan, and in terms of the US administration's future ability to secure various things for Islamabad from Congress. All told," he said, "this is a label that Pakistan will wear proudly."
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