News

DATE=04/20/99 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP NUMBER=6-11249 TITLE= INDIA'S GOVERNMENT FALLS AS ITS MISSILES FLY BYLINE=ANDREW N. GUTHRIE TELEPHONE=619-3335 DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS CONTENT= INTRO: EVENTS IN THE ASIAN SUBCONTINENT ARE MOVING TO THE TOP OF SOME U-S NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL COLUMNS, WITH THE FIRING OF MEDIUM RANGE, NUCLEAR-CAPABLE MISSILES BY INDIA AND PAKISTAN, AND NOW, THE FALL OF THE RIGHT WING GOVERNMENT IN NEW DELHI. WE GET A SAMPLING OF U-S PRESS COMMENT ON THESE DEVELOPMENTS NOW FROM _______________ IN TODAY'S U-S OPINION ROUNDUP. TEXT: INDIA'S HINDU NATIONALIST BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY, THE B-J-P, FAILED TO MAINTAIN ITS MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT DURING A ROUTINE VOTE THIS PAST WEEKEND, AND THE GOVERNMENT FELL. THE RESULTING UNCERTAINTY HAS PLUNGED THE WORLD'S MOST POPULOUS DEMOCRACY INTO POLITICAL TURMOIL. BUT AFTER NUCLEAR-CAPABLE MISSILE TESTS DURING THE PAST TEN DAYS BY BOTH INDIA AND PAKISTAN, SOME OBSERVERS SEE THE SUBCONTINENT AS A GROWING WORRY. "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS" SAYS ANY NEW GOVERNMENT IN INDIA MUST MUST TAKE STEPS TO UNDO THE RECENT BUILD-UP OF "HOME-GROWN" NUCLEAR MISSILES IN THE ASIAN SUBCONTINENT. VOICE: A PARTICULAR WEAKNESS OF PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACIES IS THAT THEY OFTEN PRODUCE FRAGILE COALITION GOVERNMENTS - - ESPECIALLY, AS IN INDIA'S CASE, WHEN THE COALITIONS HOLD NEARLY A SCORE OF PARTIES. NONETHELESS, INDIA'S HINDU-NATIONALIST BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY THOUGHT IT HAD HIT ON [FOUND] A WINNING FORMULA: INCREASE NUCLEAR TENSIONS WITH NEIGHBORS PAKISTAN AND CHINA. THE FORMULA WORKED FOR A WHILE. ... [BUT] SUCCESS WAS SHORT-LIVED. THE 13-MONTH-OLD [ATAL BEHARI] VAJPAYEE GOVERNMENT FELL ANY WAY OVER THE WEEKEND ... INDIA DESERVES A GOVERNMENT THAT CAN ATTEND TO THE COUNTRY'S LEGITIMATE DEFENSE NEEDS WITHOUT RESORTING TO IGNOMINIOUS RULE BY NUCLEAR BRINKMANSHIP. SO DOES THE REST OF THE WORLD, WHICH HAS AN EQUALLY LEGITIMATE STAKE IN PEACE IN SOUTH ASIA. TEXT: FROM A SMALL TOWN IN MAINE, NEAR THE FAMED MOUNT DESERT ISLAND RESORT, THE W E E K L Y "ELLSWORTH AMERICAN" IS ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT THIS LATEST MISSILE FIRING, AND EDITORIALIZED JUST BEFORE THE VAJPAYEE GOVERNMENT FELL: VOICE: INDIA'S GOVERNMENT GOT A GREAT LIFT OUT OF THE FIRST MISSILE, WITH WHICH IT BREACHED NON-NUCLEAR STATUS, AND IT MAY BE SAVED FROM DISSOLUTION BY ITS LATEST MISSILE. NUCLEAR POWER MAY BE A POLITICAL ASSET, BUT IN PRACTICAL TERMS, IT MAY BE A DISASTER FOR INDIA. FEW COUNTRIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO SUCH WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. AN EXCHANGE OF SUCH WEAPONS INVOLVING COUNTRIES OF SUCH GREAT POPULATION DENSITY WOULD CAUSE UNBELIEVABLE CASUALTIES. FEW COUNTRIES HAVE A GREATER NEED FOR NEGOTIATING A NON-NUCLEAR STATUS. TEXT: "THE SUN" IN BALTIMORE WORRIES ABOUT WHAT IT CALLS, IN TODAY'S LEAD EDITORIAL HEADLINE, "INDECISION IN INDIA AFTER [THE] GOVERNMENT'S FALL," BUT IT ALSO CREDITS THE B-J-P LEADERS WITH SOME PROGRESS AS WELL. VOICE: THIRTEEN MONTHS OF GOVERNMENT LED BY THE HINDU NATIONALIST BHARATIYA JANA PARTY DID NOT REMAKE INDIA. IT DID STIR A NUCLEAR ARMS RACE WITH PAKISTAN AND RELIGIOUS-CULTURAL BIGOTRY DIRECTED MOSTLY AT MUSLIMS. BUT THE GOVERNMENT OF PRIME MINISTER ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE ALSO IMPROVED RELATIONS WITH PAKISTAN AND THE UNITED STATES. AND IT INITIATED ECONOMIC REFORMS THAT DISMANTLED INEFFICIENT SOCIALISM, LEADING TO HOPES THAT INDIA MAY HELP LEAD ASIA BACK TO ECONOMIC HEALTH. NOW THAT IT HAS FALLEN FOR NO GOOD REASON, THE B-J-P GOVERNMENT CAN BE SEEN AS THE MOST PRODUCTIVE OF THE FIVE THAT INDIA HAS HAD THROUGH TWO ELECTIONS IN THREE YEARS. ... INDIA NEEDS THE SECULAR AND INCLUSIVE VISION THAT BELONGS TO THE CONGRESS PARTY IN RHETORIC, IF NOT ALWAYS IN PRACTICE. IT ALSO NEEDS THE REFORMS UNDOING THE DUBIOUS CONGRESS ECONOMIC HERITAGE. HOW TO ACHIEVE BOTH IS THE CHALLENGE FACING THE WORLD'S MOST POPULOUS DEMOCRACY WHICH, WHATEVER ITS FAILINGS, REMAINS JUST THAT. /// OPT /// TEXT: "THE NEW YORK TIMES" SEES, AS DOES "THE SUN" BOTH PLUSES AND MINUSES TO THE 13-MONTH REIGN OF THE B-J-P. VOICE: MR. VAJPAYEE SPENT 45 YEARS IN THE OPPOSITION AND BARELY 13 MONTHS IN POWER, BUT HE MADE A SINGULAR MARK. HE SENT HIS COUNTRY DOWN A SELF-DESTRUCTIVE PATH OF TESTING NUCLEAR WEAPONS. MORE RECENTLY, HOWEVER, HE MET ... THE PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER, NAWAZ SHARIF. THERE WAS REASON TO HOPE THAT, IN SPITE OF THE MISSILE TESTS, INDIA AND PAKISTAN COULD MAKE MORE PROGRESS TOWARD HALTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF MISSILES AND WEAPONS-GRADE NUCLEAR MATERIAL. MRS. GANDHI AND THE CONGRESS PARTY HAVE NOT BEEN AS SUPPORTIVE OF THESE EFFORTS AS THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN. TEXT: IN THE RHODE ISLAND CAPITOL, "THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL" IS MOST CONCERNED ABOUT THE BURGEONING MISSILE DEVELOPMENT BY INDIA AND PAKISTAN AND WHAT IT BODES FOR THE SUB CONTINENT. VOICE: THIS WILL EXACERBATE FRICTIONS BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN, NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBORS AND PERENNIAL ANTAGONISTS WITH COMPETING BOUNDARY CLAIMS OVER KASHMIR. IT WILL GREATLY ANNOY INDIA'S OTHER MAJOR NEIGHBOR, CHINA, WITH WHOM IT HAS ALSO HAD LONG-RUNNING BOUNDARY FEUDS. AND IT WILL EXASPERATE WASHINGTON, WHICH HAS BEEN TRYING TO CAJOLE NEW DELHI INTO SUBMITTING TO INTERNATIONAL CONSTRAINTS AGAINST NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION. THE MAJOR PROBLEM THAT U-S DIPLOMATS HAVE WHEN TRYING TO DISSUADE INDIAN OFFICIALS FROM PURSUING THEIR NUCLEAR PLANS IS THAT INDIA'S VERY REAL SECURITY NEEDS STRONGLY INCLINE IT TO SEEK AN EFFECTIVE NUCLEAR DETERRENT. BOTH CHINA AND PAKISTAN HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND MISSILES CAPABLE OF DELIVERING THEM DEEP INTO INDIA'S TERRITORY. ... AT LEAST AS IMPORTANT IS RECOGNIZING WHAT WE [THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT] ** SHOULDN'T ** [ITALICS FOR EMPHASIS] DO. WE SHOULDN'T APPEAR TO BE GRANDSTANDING BY TRYING TO PRESSURE INDIA INTO DOING WHAT WE OURSELVES -- QUITE WISELY -- HAVE BEEN UNWILLING TO DO - - NAMELY, GIVE UP OUR NUCLEAR DETERRENT. INDIA IS N O T SOME INSIGNIFICANT BACKWATER; IT IS BIG ENOUGH TO WANT TO BE ABLE TO DEFEND ITS OWN NATIONAL SECURITY BY DETERRING ATTACKS FROM NEARBY NUCLEAR POWERS. THERE IS NO REASON FOR INDIA TO BELIEVE ... IT COMES UNDER THE PROTECTION OF OUR NUCLEAR UMBRELLA ... TEXT: ON THAT NOTE, WE CONCLUDE THIS SAMPLING OF U-S OPINION ON THE GROWING MISSILE RACE IN THE SUB-CONTINENT AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT IN A RECENT NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. NEB/ANG/KL 20-Apr-99 2:29 PM EDT (1829 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .