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The bigger loser turns out to be Pakistan - The Afternoon Despatch and Courier

Editorial ()
June 4, 1998

Title: The bigger loser turns out to be Pakistan
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Afternoon Despatch and Courier
Date: June 4, 1998

East Lansing, Michigan - Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister,
claimed that the country's nuclear tests last week helped "settle
the score with India. But if any country gained an advantage, it
was India.

The news of the tests probably led to as much jubilation in New
Delhi's government offices as it did in the streets of Karachi
and Lahore. The reasons for Indian satisfaction are not difficult
to decipher.

By responding to India's nuclear tests with its own, Pakistan
lost the moral high ground and also its leverage with America its

True, Pakistan failed to receive the military aid and guarantees
it was seeking from the United States before it set off its
nuclear tests. But it could have used its position - David to
India's Goliath - to eventually extract economic aid as well as
security guarantees from the nuclear powers.

And the nuclear tests could bolster the claim that India has been
making for years: that Pakistan is an irresponsible if not a
rogue state. This accusation has special resonance since
Pakistan's military, only recently pushed from the center of
political power, now has the nuclear bomb.

In short, India's decision to go nuclear has been 'vindicated,"
as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee put it.

His argument that India needed to counter Pakistan's nuclear
program gets a lift, and none too soon. The Indian people's
initial euphoria over their country's nuclear tests had begun to
wane as it began to face the tough trade, banking and aid
sanctions imposed by the United States and others.

Only one day before Pakistan's nuclear tests, the opposition in
the Indian parliament had stridently accused the prime minister's
Hindu nationalist party of "inventing' the threats posed by
Pakistan and China to justify the nuclear tests. Now the
oppositions cries are likely to go nowhere.

India's demonstration of its nuclear capability is likely to give
it greater flexibility in dealing with the Pakistani-supported
insurgency in Kashmir.

Since 1990, Pakistan has been involved in training and arming
militants who infiltrated the territory. India has been reluctant
to respond militarily because it was afraid any conflict could
escalate into all-out war and even provoke Pakistan, which had
not been sure of India's capabilities, to resort to nuclear

Now that India has demonstrated the sophistication of its nuclear
arsenal, it could decide to attack training camps and bases in
Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, gambling that Pakistan would limit
any war to conventional weapons.

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