Both Nawaz, Benazir were against nuclear explosions | Pakistan Today

Both Nawaz, Benazir were against nuclear explosions

Revelations made by WikiLeaks about the US diplomatic cables have suggested that the Pakistani leadership, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the opposition leader, twice prime minister of the country, Benazir Bhutto did not support the idea to conduct nuclear tests on May 28, 1998 and even she disavowed her widely-reprinted op-ed calling for a preemptive military strike on India, claiming that she invoked this possibility only to illustrate the range of options available – not as a recommendation for action. Benazir also suggested there would have to be a cooling off period of several months, after which negotiations could begin to make the line of control a permanent border. Given the new strategic realities, dividing Kashmir would seem to be the only option.
Another cable sent on May 29, which carried the full text of a letter written by Nawaz to US president Bill Clinton clarifying circumstances which led to the nuclear tests, Nawaz said, “Having exhausted all options and left with no choice, we have in our supreme national interest decided to exercise the nuclear option. This decision, which I have taken with a heavy heart, was necessitated by the imperatives of self-defence and to deter aggression against the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of our country”.
Another two separate cables were sent by US embassy Islamabad on May 25 and May 28. In a cable sent by Dan Mozena on May 28, the US official termed Nawaz as “somber and tired looking” told his nation about five successful nuclear tests after what he called the international community’s failure to respond adequately to the Indian threat, saying had the international community taken the Indian threat seriously, Pakistan would not might have gone for the tests.
Commenting on the situation, the cable stated that at the end of the day, Nawaz fell victim to the hardliners both in the opposition and within his own government who were relentless in whipping up a media frenzy demanding a Pakistani response to the Indian tests, suggesting that Nawaz was not in favour of the tests.
Only three days earlier on May 25, another cable sent by Lahore principal officer Geoffrey R Pyatt had quoted PPP chairwoman Benazir Bhutto as telling Pyatt that at this stage, a test would be counter to Pakistan’s interests.
Instead, she said the PPP would redirect its criticism of Nawaz to focus on the government’s “indecision” and “mismanagement”. She predicted that Nawaz may have to be “sacrificed” in order to heal the wounded pride of Pakistan’s military. The principal officer cautioned that Benazir’s bellicose reaction to India’s tests had drawn harsh criticism in the west and suggested that the PPP state publicly that testing is too important to be used as a political football.
Benazir argued that May 11 was a turning point in Pakistan’s history which requires a fundamental rethinking of the country’s security strategy. She predicted that Nawaz may have to be “sacrificed” in order to heal the wounded pride of Pakistan’s military.
The principal officer cautioned that Benazir’s bellicose reaction to India’s tests had drawn harsh criticism in the west and suggested that the PPP state publicly that testing is too important to be used as a political football. Asked about next steps in the Indo-Pak dialogue, she recommended a cooling-off period followed by negotiations to ratify the current division of Kashmir. Benazir also disavowed her widely-reprinted op-ed calling for a preemptive military strike on India, claiming that she invoked this possibility only to illustrate the range of options available — not as a recommendation for action.
The principal officer met may 25 at her request with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was in Lahore for an appearance before the high court’s accountability bench. She was joined by PPP provincial president Rao Sikander Iqbal and communications director Qasim Zia. This meeting followed several conversations in which PPP leaders have claimed to have accepted our arguments in favor of restraint (reftel) and to have convinced Benazir to soften her rhetoric. Senate opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan went so far as to claim on May 24 that Benazir had “taken a u-turn” and openly opposed nuclear testing in recent PPP leadership meetings.
Asked about next steps in the Indo-Pak dialogue, Benazir suggested there would have to be a cooling off period of several months, after which negotiations could begin to make the line of control a permanent border. Given the new strategic realities, dividing Kashmir would seem to be the only option. She assumed that western support for Pakistan’s nuclear restraint would eventually be followed by pressure to come clean and adhere to the CTBT and NPT.
May 11 was a turning point in Pakistan’s history, Benazir said. We have to rethink how we define our security and how we look at India. According to my sources, Benazir continued, the military leadership understands these changed circumstances and is in no hurry to test a nuclear device. However, at lower levels of the military there is a feeling of wounded pride similar to sentiments after the 1971 loss of Bangladesh.
“I’m afraid Nawaz may eventually have to be sacrificed to heal that sense of shame,” Benazir added, “but it’s hard to imagine who might take his place.”
Even if I am not calling for a nuclear test, Benazir suggested, Nawaz Sharif will remain vulnerable to criticisms of his indecision in the face of India’s aggression. “Nawaz is trying to put handcuffs on me,” Benazir quipped, “But I’m going to put bangles on him.” If the PPP has decided nuclear testing would be against the country’s best interests, principal officer suggested, then it would be helpful to make this point publicly. So far in this debate, the opposition has appeared to be motivated more by politics than by national interests. The principal officer also questioned Benazir on her May 17 Los Angeles times op-ed, which concluded by dangling the possibility of a preemptive strike on India in response to the tests.



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2 Comments

  1. Ak Malik said:

    And today He claims credit for what he did with heavy heart.. with all there wealth in foreign banks..these so called leaders cannot be brave heart.

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