India, Rights Campaigners Await Bush-Musharraf Talks
July 7, 2008 - 8:13 PM
New Delhi (CNSNews.com) - On the eve of a Camp David summit between President Bush and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, the Indian government is hoping its concerns also will be on the agenda.
India says it will await the outcome of the talks between Pervez Musharraf and George W. Bush, which are scheduled for Tuesday.
"Our concerns are on cross-border terrorism, which should stop," Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told reporters on Sunday before leaving on a visit to China. "Our friends [in the international community] have agreed with us on this score."
India accuses Pakistan of supporting Muslim terrorist groups fighting to end Indian rule in disputed Kashmir.
While in the U.S., Musharraf also is scheduled to meet with Vice-President Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
He will hold talks with World Bank President James Wolfensohn, address the U.S. Institute of Peace, and open a new Pakistan Embassy building before leaving for Germany on June 29.
Meanwhile, Pentagon and State Department spokesman have refuted reports in Indian and U.S. media indicating that the U.S. planned to go ahead with selling advanced versions of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
The transaction was approved in the late 1980s but the aircraft were never delivered because of Islamabad's nuclear arms program.
India has long opposed the deal for fear it may be on the receiving end of the aircraft.
"We have seen in the past that the supply of military weapons to Pakistan has created problems in the region because these armaments have been used against us," external affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.
When asked about the issue, Defense Minister George Fernandes appeared unconcerned.
"The United States is not selling arms to Pakistan for the first time," he said. "They have been doing so for 50 years. Why should we get worked up about this as we are also buying arms from various countries, including France and Russia?"
Fernandes said India had no need to worry, as it had a "very well equipped defense force" of its own.
India's strategic defense partnership with the U.S. would not be derailed if the F-16 sale went through, he added.
Also closely watching the Bush-Musharraf meeting are campaigners at Human Rights Watch.
In separate letters to Bush and Musharraf, the group urged them to make human rights a priority. It urged them to talk about "democratic reform and an end to rights abuses in Pakistan."
At the same time, HRW argued that non-U.S. citizens' rights had been infringed upon by American laws and policies introduced after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and that many of those affected were Pakistani nationals.
"President Bush is in a unique position to influence General Musharraf on Pakistan's poor human rights record," said Brad Adams of the group's Asia Division in a statement.
"And Gen. Musharraf should question President Bush about illegal detentions in Guantanamo [Bay U.S. military-run detention center] and post-9/11 immigration policies that have violated the rights of non-citizens'."
Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, promised to restore democratic rule. He did allow elections last October, but also declared himself president while holding onto his top military post.
He also amended the constitution to give him the power to hire and fire prime ministers and to dissolve parliament.
The October 2002 elections gave fundamentalists a boost as they won support from voters angered by Musharraf's decision to move from supporting the Taliban militia in neighboring Afghanistan, to become a front line ally of the U.S. in the war against terrorism.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.