UNDETERRED by the worldwide condemnation of its Monday's nuclear tests
and the threat of tough
"comprehensive sanctions" by the United States, New Delhi has gone ahead and carried out two more
underground nuclear tests at Pokhran. There have also been reports that the Indian government has
approved plans for a long-range intercontinental missile, Agni-II, with a range of 2,200 kilometres, at
an estimated cost of Rs 6 billion. This should leave one in no doubt that India is determined to have
itself accepted as a nuclear weapon power, at par with the five established members of the nuclear
club - US, Britain, France, Russia and China. It is also clear that India has no fear of world opinion
or, perhaps, it feels confident that the world powers would not actually want to isolate it by imposing
on it the threatened sanctions. In the immediate sense, all that has happened following India's three
tests on Monday is that Washington has reportedly recalled its Ambassador in New Delhi for
"consultations", something that is seen as no more than a token expression of displeasure.
However, now that India has confronted the world with an accomplished fact
and taken all the risk
that this involves, the question is whether the US and the other major powers would be content with a
mere denunciation and some token measures followed after some time by forgiveness and business as
usual. India has staked a claim to membership in the exclusive nuclear club of five powers and to
respectability and immunity that go with it. This also implies a clear bid to win recognition as the sixth
great power with a right to establish its hegemony as a dominant power in South Asia and the Indian
It is reassuring that India's nuclear tests have failed to push Pakistan
into some sort of knee-jerk
reaction. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made it clear that Pakistan's own security
concerns alone will determine its reaction to the grave threat posed by India. At the same time, he has
also left no doubt that Pakistan would not yield to any external pressures and that it reserves the right
to do whatever it considers necessary to safeguard the country's security and sovereignty.
Courtesy: DAILY DAWN (14 May 1998)
THE three nuclear explosions of India on Monday, 24 years after its first
underground test in the same
Pokhran site near the Pakistan border, comes at a time when Pakistan is formulating its new budget
under severe fiscal constraints.
Islamabad has until now been persuaded by the international donors to reduce
its defence budget
which is 6.4 per cent compared to the world average of 3.3 per cent - a dramatic come-down from
6.1 per cent before the collapse of the Soviet Union. But there has been no pressure from the donors
after the BJP-led coalition came into office in New Delhi in March with its militant defence posture
and the scary utterances of its defence minister George Fernandez. And now by exploding three
bombs in one day "with fission device", a low yield device, as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpaee has
described them, India has sought to demonstrate not only its nuclear weapons making capability but
also its overall military might.
The initial reaction of Pakistan, though threatened directly by the explosions
and their military, political
and economic import, has been a guarded one and rightly so. The world has deplored the explosions.
The US has described them as "a very very negative development." The UN Secretary General has
expressed his deep regret.The Canadian foreign minister now in Britain to attend the Birmingham
meeting of the super-rich group of eight, says 'the explosions would be the front and centre of the G-8
deliberations as it is a very regressive step in the global move towards nuclear disarmament'.
The central question now is: will the world punish India for it? President
Clinton has promised to
enforce 'very stringent economic and military sanctions against New Delhi under US laws. The US
could apply sanctions that would affect foreign assistance, trade, loans etc. Apparently the Glenn
Amendment of 1994 now requires a freeze on a billion dollars of annual economic aid to India. If the
US takes the lead other donors might follow. The issue is the political will of the West, particularly the
lone superpower, to act according to its declarations of pious intent in checking nuclear proliferation.
The world had expressed its anguish in 1974 when India exploded its first
nuclear device. Western
leaders came up with all kinds of threats of sanctions and aid cuts. Nothing much happened, except
delay in the aid for a while. They argued later that India was receiving too little of aid, and stoppage of
that could not influence it. But Pakistan is far more dependent on Western aid and hence it could be
influenced to give up its quest for nuclear weapons.
The fact is that if India would not give up its nuclear weapons-making
or the right to make it, brushing
aside the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of September, 1996, Pakistan cannot forgo that right in the
interest of pure self-defence. And Pakistan has also made it clear it would sign the CTBT the day
Indian signed that and that the safeguards were adequate. But the US has been punishing Pakistan by
suspending military aid and economic aid, and finally military sales as well and yet describing it as a
good ally of the US as Ambassador Bill Richardson did effusively during his recent visit to Pakistan.
But now after the test-firing of the medium range Ghauri missile the Kahuta Laboratories have been
brought under US sanctions.
What has happened is a major setback to President Clinton's efforts to
bring about complete nuclear
disarmament. The CTBT, in which he took a major lead, has been signed by 149 countries in the
world. But now India has sent a reverse signal, which may induce other non-signatories too to try their
hand at an under-ground explosion. If President Clinton, who is due to visit India in November, does
not punish India for arresting the world's progress towards nuclear disarmament he would be sending
a wrong signal to the non-signatories.
On Pakistan's part, if India is not subjected to severe sanctions, it will
have no reason not to explode
its own device. It has been punished for too long not for exploding a device but for not agreeing to
give up the nuclear weapons research. So after the new series of explosions by India, and no
adequate punishment quick enough, Pakistan too can join the nuclear club. All that could mean the
unravelling of the CTBT. So the responsibility for saving the CTBT rests with Clinton and depends on
the decisions to be taken at the G-8 meeting in Birmingham.
A strange logic comes from Washington: India may be forgiven its old and
new sins if it signs the
CTBT. But India is more likely to watch the world's reaction and the extent of punishment it could be
subjected to before taking a decision on that. Meanwhile, amidst fear of economic sanctions the index
of the National Stock Exchange in India fell by 25.26 points from 1,135 points in the first 25 minutes
of Tuesday morning's trading in Bombay.
Meanwhile at the political and popular levels there is effusive jubilation
in India. There was a similar
jubilation in India when Mrs Indira Gandhi had exploded a nuclear device in 1974. But that jubilation
and political support for her did not last long, when she imposed the infamous emergency laws the
very next year.At present India's macro economic figures are far from bright as presented by
Chidambaram, the finance minister in Inder Gujral's government last year. A bomb is not a solution to
India's economic, social or political problems.
It has been said by some of the Indian military commentators on Indian
TV that the bomb was a reply
to Pakistan's Ghauri missile and a means to repress the Jubilation in Pakistan following its firing. But
some Indian generals have said the preparations for the explosion have been going on for a long time.
The explosions have come in an environment in which its Defence Minister has been too vocal, and
recently shifted his emphasis from Pakistan's threat by saying China was a greater threat to India.
Now it appears there was a clear political purpose in shifting his ground. He wanted to be seen siding
with those in the US who hold China as an eventual economic and military threat to their country.
Secondly, he could argue India wanted to demonstrate its nuclear weapons capability so that it could
be regarded on par with China's.
But China has not only signed the CTBT but also announced a moratorium
on tests that has been
sustained, says a US State Department spokesman. So China cannot be the real reason for the Indian
explosions. The only reason can be India's perennial quest for a mini-superpower status because of its
size, population and overall resources regardless of how low is its per capita income.
India has been arguing it would not sign the CTBT if other powers would
not destroy their nuclear
stockpile or at least draw up a schedule to do so. But those countries led by the US have been
focusing on banning tests first, and moving towards destruction of the nuclear stockpile thereafter. But
India has now demonstrated it will play the nuclear game according to its own rule.
It has been said by some Indian military strategists that India should
follow the method employed by
the US to scuttle the Soviet Union. Following the intense arms race engendered by the cold war, the
USSR was spending too much of its GNP on arms and not enough on the welfare of its people. By
1989 the USSR was spending 12.15 per cent of its GNP on defence while the US was spending 6.6
per cent - the world average then was 6.1 per cent. That led to the economic collapse of the USSR,
and that is the kind of strategy India has been seeking vis-a-vis Pakistan for some years now, along
with a kind of brinkmanship and big bluff.
Pakistan's military spending in recent years has been six per cent of the
GNP while India's 3.3 per
cent of the GNP, which is the world average as well. When it comes to the military balance the
strength of Pakistan's forces is 1 to 2 of India's, but when it comes to their military expenditure it is
just the reverse as our GNP is small compared to India's though our per capita income is far better.
Experts like Dr Mahbubul Haq who come up with Human Resource Index regularly
and lament the
pathetic performance of the South Asia, have talked eloquently of how much India and Pakistan can
gain by reducing their military expenditure and diverting the same towards human development. But
such calls from him and Dr Mubashir Hassan and others who stand for India-Pakistan amity, fall on
deaf ears in India. So Pakistan is a forced to spend more and more on defence.
Ultimately, a strong defence needs a strong economy. Japan's military spending
is one per cent of the
GNP but that is equal to 35 billion dollars or ten times what Pakistan spends on defence. Hence the
need of the times is a true consensus on national defence and on the economy. Here is a test of
leadership, its sagacity and farsightedness.
Courtesy: Daily DAWN (14 May 1998)
Mahatma Gandhi's lifestyle gives India an image of peace and harmony
in the world that is certainly not in keeping with
the latent, hostile tendencies of Hindutva ideology lurking just beneath the surface. The heirs of Mahatma Gandhi's
RSS murderers have now become the leaders of India under the BJP camouflage. It is fitting that the veneer has been
violently shorn away with the three nuclear explosions at Pokhran in the Rajasthan Desert on May 10, 1998. The world
had taken scant notice of India's acquisitionist, hegemonistic attitude and the "territorial" adjustments of Muslim
majority areas, such as Kashmir, Hyderabad, etc. When India invaded Portuguese Goa, Daman and Diu the world did
sit up to take notice but even that was overcome by the love-fest that US liberal-democrats romantically fostered on
"secular" India wrapped in a cloak of Gandhian principles.
Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru was seen as an apostle of that creed as he
led the world's "largest" democracy. With
Goa's victory bells ringing in his ears and with Defence Minister Krishna Menon (and his favourite armchair General TN
Kaul) urging him on, Nehru miscalculated in taking on the Chinese. "Ordering Indian jawans to throw the Chinese out,"
(The Statesman October 1962) Nehru found his own troops thrown out of Aksai Chin in Ladakh in the west and
bundled far south of the McMahon Line in NEFA in the east. In full retreat, India desperately appealed to the West for
help and it was soon coming, US President John Kennedy sending US plane-loads bearing guns and ammunition
around the clock to the rescue of "defenceless" India from the "aggression" of the "rabid communist Chinese". Lost
somewhere was the US $64000 question, who was the initial aggressor? Even the Americans balked at the Indian
wish-list containing submarines to fight the Chinese in the Himalayas.
Risking adverse world publicity, India exploded its first "peaceful"
nuclear device in 1974. World condemnation got
muted during the "terrorism" years, exacerbated by the far-fetched fears of an "Islamic nuclear bomb". It is clear 20 or
so years later that the documentary on this subject was a clever mix of facts with fiction to pre-empt noves by
Pakistan to match India's capability.
Pakistan has good reason to celebrate! It seems Ghauri did more than
take its maiden test flight, it provoked Indian
belligerency out into the open. What did India hope to achieve with the nuclear explosions? Firstly, it was in BJP's
manifesto to go nuclear. All the apologists for India in the Western world cannot waive away India's intentions or
capability in the nuclear world as mere political campaign rhetoric. In 1974, India called its atomic bomb test a
"peaceful" nuclear explosion; this time they have not tried that subterfuge with their thermo nuclear device. There are
some other ambitions in the BJP manifesto which should not only make good reading but be taken seriously.
Secondly, BJP was under great pressure from its own supporters to show off its true nationalistic colours, particularly
because it was seen to be weak in dealing with its recalcitrant coalition partners like Jayalalitha, Hegde, Fernandes,
etc. Thirdly and probably decisively, Ghauri had touched a raw Indian nerve. India's knee-jerk reaction scared the
Indian public. Too late, the Indian leaders realised their own rhetoric was contributing to the psychological damage. No
amount of missile tests would reverse the damage, only something far more potent would do and the testing of a
nuclear device was therefore their only option to raise the morale of the Indian masses and conversely put pressure on
the Pakistani masses psychologically. Even BJP's most ardent liberal supporter in the West could not have imagined
they would go ahead with such colossal over-kill, both for domestic consumption and as a blatant threat to Pakistan.
This penchant for cheap publicity should become very expensive with respect to their conduct as a responsible entity
in the comity of nations. There is definitely going to be a major loss of goodwill.
The US State Department statement that it viewed the test with "disappointment"
was extremely disappointing. A
number of US and European Union (EU) laws can be applied automatically as sanctions against India. At the drop of a
hat, Pakistan is victimised, even on suspicion, on the basis of the relevant US laws. Would there now be a drop-scene
on any kind of aid or investment in India? Iraq is being quarantined because of its ambitions to create "weapons of
mass destruction". Does not the thermonuclear device qualify as such? The Japanese people, the only sufferers of a
nuclear holocaust, are particularly sensitive about nuclear proliferation. Will they sit by and stomach their government's
hypocrisy in applying double standards to their posture against nuclear devices and proliferation thereof?
An interesting movie called The Day After followed the 24 hours period immediately after a nuclear explosion. Frankly,
India's foreign policy has just taken such a hit as regards its credibility, the nuclear explosion might as well have taken
place in South Bloc, HQ India's Foreign Ministry in New Delhi. For years, India has got away with its aggressive,
hegemonistic designs garbed under its "peaceful" Gandhian image. Even when their own Jain Commission laid out the
bare facts about RAW's deadly involvement in turning Sri Lanka from paradise to hell on earth, as well as other
neighbouring countries, the world turned a blind eye. The world has also been very lenient in its treatment of Indian
atrocities on its minorities, beginning with Muslims and not ending with the Christians. Despite the Blasphemy Law,
our own attitude towards minorities is far more benevolent than that of "secular" India. Out of the 17 full-fledged revolts
going on against Indian tutelage for the last 50 years, mostly in north-east India, Bodos, Manipuris, Nagas, Mizos, etc.,
are all Christians and they get killed in dozens by Indian security forces on a daily basis. Does the world take notice?
Instead of sympathising with his friend, the Dalai Lama, with respect to Tibet, Hollywood movie star Richard Gere
needs to make a movie about the Christians' long struggle against Hindu chauvinism in north-east India.
Over their initial euphoria and receiving adverse world reaction, Indian
planners must be desperately hoping that
Pakistan will go ahead with a similar explosion to match. Despite an immediate demand to go that route, this course
must not be adopted, at least not for the time being. Why make our nuclear pursuits public? India is on the back foot
and Pakistan should wait and see whether the West is going to seriously apply economic and military sanctions.
There is no need to indulge in chest beating. No amount of sanctions will materially affect India's economy. However,
reason and logic advises restraint. Pakistan must not lose the initiative by an ill-conceived cheap attempt at heroics,
one which will have no benefit except for domestic consumption. We must exploit this advantage. If the West wants
restraint there has to be a price for this restraint. If the Western powers want us to stop going nuclear, they must
immediately bring our conventional forces at some par with India's while providing us a guarantee of a nuclear
umbrella. One way to shore up our economy would be for the West (and Japan) to forgive us our foreign debt, like for
Egypt, etc after the Gulf War, at least that portion related directly to our socio-economic infrastructure. The US has
been denying us the paid-for F-16s parked in the Mojave Desert, mainly because of anticipated negative reaction from
India. India having publicly thumbed its nose at them and the rest of the world, the least the US can do is to release
these F-16s immediately so as to give us a minimal self-defence capability. Among the principles enshrined in
American beliefs and traditions is the right of self-defence, particularly for the underdog. Pakistan is quite visibly the
underdog and faced with an implacable bully that cares two hoots for world opinion in the accomplishing of its aims
and objectives, violently if need be. Don't we have the right to self-defence?
The immediate danger to Pakistan is that India might resort to adventurism
in Kashmir by trying to seize an enclave.
An all-out war will certainly follow with the Indians having what will at least be publicly a visible nuclear advantage. We
should prepare for any eventuality. We live in a dangerous world and in this eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, exploding
a nuclear device would be to blink, giving away our trump card. The last thing we want is to be equated with nuclear
pariah India. It would be self-defeating to go nuclear head to head publicly with the Indians. To quote Sun Tzu: "If you
wait by the river long enough, you will see the corpse of your enemy go floating by." Let us exercise patience. While we
do not see the corpse just yet, the smell of the Indians having burnt themselves badly with their own "peaceful" nuclear
devices is already quite strong. Mian Nawaz Sharif should go on TV and say to the world: "Forget us. After 50 years we
have got used to the Indians making this region a dangerous place to live in. Does the world have a nuclear holocaust
to fear from a fundamentalist, nationalistic India mindset in an expansion mode?"
Courtesy: Daily THE NATION (14 May 1998)
DESPITE the strong reaction from the international community to India's
blatant defiance of the world consensus on
the need to incrementally roll back nuclear arms after the first three nuclear explosions on Monday, New Delhi has
exploded two more devices on Wednesday. India's defiance has thus escalated from a general one to a more specific
thumbing of noses at its critics. The US is threatening tough sanctions which are mandatory under its laws. Japan is
reviewing its aid and loan commitments. Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Thailand, China, Sri Lanka, the UN and EU have all condemned the nuclear tests conducted in the Pokhran desert.
Many of these countries have withdrawn their ambassadors to New Delhi for consultations on the policy implications of
the development. Whereas most of these countries seem inclined to punish India with sanctions, and President
Clinton's forthcoming visit to India may be postponed or even cancelled, Russia's response has been guarded,
asserting that sanctions and pressure could prove counter-productive. The fact of the matter is that it is the turning of
a blind eye to India's nuclear ambitions over many years which has encouraged it in its defiance, rather than being
rapped over the knuckles for flying in the face of international opinion. Whereas a country that has now conducted
nuclear explosions twice was treated with kid gloves, not the least because of the prospect of commercial advantage
accruing from India's huge market, Pakistan has been subjected for years now to discriminatory treatment and
sanctions on the basis of mere suspicion and conjecture as to its nuclear capability, despite having exercised
responsible restraint. It is ironic that a large part of the US' concern is still focused on Pakistan's reaction to India's
explosions rather than concentrating on the implications for regional and global security of New Delhi's actions.
Pakistan's warnings of India's intentions have been ignored to the extent that there has been a serious failure of
intelligence in detecting the preparations for the Pokhran explosion. The international community is now straining to
bolt the stable door after the horse has fled. India on the other hand is waxing euphoric over its 'achievement'. New
Delhi's triumphalism is being expressed in confidence that India can ride out the impact of any sanctions, which it
claims have been taken into account and which may be weakened by the pull of commercial advantage in engaging
with India's economic potential. Indian Ministers are enthusing over the possibility of nuclear-arming its missile arsenal,
while Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has hinted at New Delhi's next tactical step of now signing the CTBT after
the explosions in order to embarrass Pakistan and narrow its options. If India manages to ride out the impact of
sanctions, which include commitments by international institutions such as the World Bank and IMF as well as
bilateral aid, investment and trade, etc, the non-proliferation regime which has held the field for the last 24 years will
signal its complete collapse. The implications of that collapse raise the spectre of nuclear proliferation mushrooming
not only in the South Asian region, but in all the nuclear threshold states.
Pakistan is on the horns of a dilemma. There are voices which argue
that unless Islamabad responds in kind to the
Indian provocation, the delicate balance of nuclear stalemate based on nuclear ambiguity will go by the board, to
Pakistan's detriment. It goes without saying that we have to weigh our options very carefully, taking into account the
advantages and disadvantages of all the possible courses open to us. The military utility of becoming a declared
nuclear state has to be set against the political and economic cost, which in Pakistan's straitened economic
circumstances, is not to be sneezed at.
Courtesy: DAILY THE NATION - (14 May 1998)
Japan suspends $26m annual aid; Denmark, Norway freeze economic aid; Sweden cancels $119m aid pact
WASHINGTON: Employees at the Indian Embassy in Washington DC look out of the door at the protesters demonstrating on the sidewalk on May 13. Protesters of Peace Action condemned India's recent nuclear tests.
BERLIN: The world reacted with outrage and dismay to the news that a
defiant New Delhi had carried out two tests which came three days after
the first round provoked international indignation. Prime Minister Ryutaro
Hashimoto had already announced that Japan, India's largest donor, was suspending its 3.5 billion yen ($ 26
million) annual grant aid in protest. "I have instructed ministries to promptly study what kind of countermeasure
can be possible," he said after the new nuclear explosions were announced. But while the backlash against India
was unanimous, the major nuclear powers were divided over how to retaliate with Russia and France arguing
against the idea of Japanese and US sanctions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern and anxiety at the latest
atomic explosions, but insisted that
Moscow would continue to oppose sanctions against New Delhi. "I do not think sanctions are the best way to
influence as country, in particular one like India," said Rashit Khamidulin, head of the ministry's Asian
France, which came under international fire itself for carrying out
nuclear tests two years ago, also said that it
believed the international sanctions were not the answer. "The French government is not encouraging the
Americans in resorting to sanctions because this is not the right method to ensure that India rejoin nations willing
to sign non-proliferation treaties," said Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Daniel Vaillant.
China, the last of the five recognised nuclear powers to react to Monday's
tests, was carefully weighing its
response on Wednesday. "It is not so quick, the response. It has to go through certain channels," a Foreign
Ministry spokesman said.
But several other countries joined Japan in suspending aid to India.
The Dutch government said that it was
freezing all economic aid, while Sweden cancelled a three-year aid agreement with India worth $ 119 million.
Prime Minister Goeran Persson said: "It is remarkable that India has not understood all the international protests,
that it is instead continuing down the road toward isolation."
Denmark also called off future cooperation projects with India. The
Norwegian government decided to freeze all
foreign aid to India apart from programmes helping the poor in response to its five nuclear tests conducted this
week. "Norway will freeze foreign aid to India indefinitely, and we are stopping financing to a high technological
project in India," said Minister of Foreign Aid Hilde Frafjord Johnson. Even those countries not considering
punitive action against India were quick to condemn its disregard for international attempts to ban all nuclear
South African President Nelson Mandela said: "We have condemned
without reservation the proliferation of
nuclear weapons." Hungary and the Czech Republic expressed concern for the effect India's actions would have
on the UN's fledgling Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Leaders of the world's leading eight industrialised countries will express
their 'dismay and condemnation' of
India's nuclear tests when they meet in Birmingham later this week, a Downing Street spokesman said. It will be
the first thing the G-8 leaders discuss when they gather in the city in central England on Friday, said British
Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman. He was not 'aware' of any collective sanctions programme.
On Wednesday, British Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett summoned
India's Deputy High Commissioner
Pradeep Kumar Singh to the Foreign Office to express London's 'shock and dismay' over the tests. He told the
envoy that reports of two further tests on Wednesday were in flagrant disregard of the concerns already expressed
by the international community and made matters yet worse.