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Friday, May 15, 1998 Published at 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK


World: Monitoring

Media divided over nuclear response

The Pakistani Government's Defence Committee has not ruled out a "tit-for-tat" response

The Pakistani media has so far given a mixed reaction to the question of whether or not the country should follow India and conduct nuclear tests of its own.


Members of the public in Pakistan voice their concern: "If they have done it, we will do it."(0'16")
Radio and newspapers have stressed factors ranging from national security to attracting international investment as worthy of consideration in deciding a response.

However, commentators were united in the view that the government should resist international pressure in taking its decision.

A senior delegation from the United States is trying to persuade the government in Islamabad not to carry out its own nuclear tests.

National security determines response


[ image: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faces a difficult decision...]
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif faces a difficult decision...
Radio Pakistan said the government would undoubtedly come under pressure to show restraint, but that the country's national security should determine any response.

"The nation is united on the point that Pakistan must have the necessary deterrents to make India think twice before launching any attack on her, and the government will have to be cognizant of the popular will of the people," the radio said.

"Pakistan should not be expected to keep herself tied to frivolous and meaningless phrases of morality and decent international conduct in the face of serious threats to its very existence."

Al-Akhbar newspaper went further in saying Pakistan had nothing to fear from sanctions as its role in regional trade was now too important to be ignored by multinational companies.

The country, therefore, had a "golden opportunity" of which it should take full advantage and conduct a nuclear explosion in order to get itself registered as a nuclear power.

Pragmatic considerations


[ image: ...but some angry protestors have already made up their own mind about what they think of India's tests]
...but some angry protestors have already made up their own mind about what they think of India's tests
The Nation took a more pragmatic line, advising the government to set certain conditions for not carrying out tests.

These terms might include "cast-iron nuclear umbrella guarantees", recognition of Pakistan's nuclear capability irrespective of whether it tests or not, the lifting of sanctions, the writing-off or reduction of debt, and economic support and investment.

If "legitimate security concerns" were not addressed, Pakistan reserved the right to test, and in the circumstances "may not be left with any other choice" , the newspaper's editorial said.

The Frontier Post newspaper said there was a growing feeling that Pakistan "might not opt for a tit-for-tat explosion right away" , given the country's reliance on foreign loans, and urged the government to act with "circumspection and wisdom".

Business leaders were quoted as saying India's tests could be "a blessing in disguise", as the sanctions imposed on Delhi offered Pakistan a chance to attract new investment.

They hoped Pakistan's response would be "politically and economically well-guided", the Karachi Business Recorder said.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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