BANGALORE, India Officials in India and in neighboring Pakistan as well as technology companies in the United States are waiting to see what impact the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington might have on the status of U.S. sanctions against high-technology exports to the two countries.
Washington had imposed the sanctions in the aftermath of nuclear-weapons tests by both countries in 1998. Pakistani military officials this week were reportedly seeking an end to those sanctions in exchange for Pakistan's assistance in Washington's response to the Taliban forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
With the possible lifting of sanctions against Pakistan, some Indian high-tech companies remain hopeful that Washington might consider doing the same for India, which is a far larger market than Pakistan for U.S. technology.
India's hopes are tempered, however, by the possibility that Washington might lift only economic sanctions against Pakistan, not limits on high-tech exports.
U.S. companies have lost millions of dollars in Indian sales to European and Asian competitors as a result of the technology sanctions.
Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration had imposed even more sanctions against Pakistan, accusing a government military agency of violating the Missile Technology Control Regime. The agency had allegedly obtained Chinese components for a Pakistani missile program.
At the same time, Indo-U.S. relations had thawed after New Delhi moved quickly to back the Bush administration's planned missile defense initiative.
Lifting sanctions "will be on the back burner now," said Ashok Kapoor, managing director of Tektronix (India). "The decision to lift sanctions in principle may remain, but the schedule for doing so will be pushed back.
The sanctions were imposed by the Clinton administration in 1998 after a series of underground nuclear tests. U.S. companies are banned from selling to about 200 research facilities, military laboratories, space research units and some public companies in India under the sanctions. In 1999, 51 of the outfits were removed from the list after Washington determined they were not involved in military work.
"Obviously, it will take time for the U.S. to get back to a normal agenda, such as looking at lifting sanctions," said Kapoor.