February 11, 1999


The eighth round of the U.S.-India and U.S.-Pakistan dialogue on security, nonproliferation and disarmament issues dominated South Asian editorial pages over the last few weeks, and was noted by the Russian and East Asian press as well. The U.S. delegation, led by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, met with its Indian counterpart, headed by External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, January 29-31, and with Pakistani officials, led by Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad, February 1-2. A wide spectrum of Indian papers praised the interlocutors for "covering immense ground during the past eight months" and the U.S. team in particular for bringing to the discussion a new "sophistication," "realism," and "a better appreciation" of India's security concerns. Nevertheless, New Delhi pundits were quick to point out that improved relations "still remain tied to the ability of the two sides to cross the nuclear hurdle" and resolve remaining differences over, inter alia, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Indian views on "minimum nuclear deterrence." By contrast, the talks drew editorial fire from the Pakistani press, with many there concluding that the talks were a "failure." Several urged Islamabad not to yield to the U.S.' "coercive diplomacy" and "follow the course of acquiring dollars at the cost of national security." Analysts from both India and Pakistan welcomed the U.S.' willingness to use the talks as a springboard to "a new more broad-based relationship" between Washington and the two capitals, based on "an agenda larger than nonproliferation." They viewed it as indicative of a readiness "to normalize...relations ruptured after [the nuclear tests last spring]." Highlights in the commentary follow:

ROUND-UP FROM INDIA: The overwhelming majority of Indian commentators heralded the "tangible progress" made at the talks, noting that there was a "substantial convergence of views." Several, such as the centrist Times of India, attributed the forward movement to, in their view, Washington's dawning realization that "it cannot cap, roll back and dominate the Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons capability." At the same time, most analysts stressed the "formidable challenges" ahead for the U.S. in trying to defuse tensions in the region "given the extreme reservations that Pakistan and India harbor toward each other." A minority of analysts was less sanguine about the outcome of the talks, highlighting, among other things, the problems that the Vajpayee government will encounter if it tries to "foist a CTBT 'fait accompli'"--resulting from "secret deal-making with the U.S."--on the Indian opposition.

AND VIEWS FROM PAKISTAN: Opinion-makers in Pakistan found little to cheer about after the talks, and agreed that the joint statement issued by the delegations "although claiming some success, had...little to show in concrete terms." A few writers inveighed against the U.S. for continuing sanctions in spite of "Pakistan's promise to sign the CTBT and participate in Fissile Material Cutoff Talks after its just demands are met" and urged that Islamabad "not bow down to U.S. pressure on issues like its nuclear program." Second-largest Urdu Nawa-e-Waqt summed up a predominant view, "We should negate the impression that in exchange for economic benefits we have agreed to implement the American agenda."

This survey is based on 44 reports from 7 countries, January 28-February 11.

EDITOR: Katherine Starr

To Go Directly To Quotes By Region, Click Below




INDIA: "Before Test Ban"

A. Surya Prakash had this analysis in the right-of-center Pioneer (2/11): "The latest round of talks between...Jaswant Singh and...Strobe Talbott has ended on an optimistic note.... While there is little doubt that the Singh-Talbott talks have helped the two sides clear some misgivings, a lot more needs to be done if the two sides are to genuinely attempt to remove the cobwebs accumulated over the past 50 years.... It is only after India conducted the nuclear tests that the United States felt the need to talk. Since they are now at it, India must insist on a complete overhaul of the United States' South Asia policy while offering to consider signing the CTBT.... Though the initial U.S. response to India's nuclear tests was full of condescension and intimidation, the anger is slowly giving way to reason.... The Americans have come a long way since last May.... These talks have been marked by a great deal of frankness and cordiality, with each side making sincere efforts to understand the other. While India's leaders may have, in principle, committed themselves to signing the CTBT, they must resist U.S. attempts to link this to the lifting of sanctions.... All this will bring about a new era in Indo-U.S. relations and end the mistrust that has characterized the relations between the two most powerful democracies of the world."

"Covert Diplomacy"

The nationalist Hindustan Times had this by strategic affairs analyst Brahma Chellaney (2/10): "The controversial CTBT is back in the arena of national debate.... The blame for providing resuscitation and respectability to the loophole-riddled treaty goes to Prime Minister Vajpayee's government, which began talking about the CTBT in a disjointed manner from the day it conducted the first round of tests.... Despite the prime minister's solemn assurances to parliament and the unambiguous but unfulfilled conditions he set in his UN speech, his chief negotiator Jaswant Singh has gone the 'full way' by clinching a CTBT deal with the Americans in the latest round of talks.... It is a measure of the manner in which negotiations on vital national security matters are being conducted by Jaswant Singh that, in sharp contrast to the inter-agency U.S. team, no ministry other than the MEA was represented in the Indian delegation nor was the cabinet taken into confidence. The politically rootless cooks in the prime minister's policy 'kitchen' are deluding themselves by believing they can foist a CTBT 'fait accompli' on the cabinet, parliament and the opposition.... The deal emerged with Jaswant Singh buying the artful U.S. proposal to 'desegregate' Indian signature from ratification--sign the CTBT without the Vajpayee-set conditions being met, but ratify later.... It is difficult to see how the weak, tottering Vajpayee government can successfully sell the CTBT to the country.... A government committed to building a national consensus prior to signature is seeking to do the reverse: First cut a deal and then, through joint official spin with the Americans on the 'positive progress' made, contrive a consensus."

"At A Turning Point"

The nationalist Hindustan Times had this analysis by former Indian Ambassador to the United States Kanti Bajpai (2/9): "After eight rounds of talks between India and the United States, what are the prospects? From the statements of the two sides, it would appear that there has been a substantial convergence.... It seems fairly clear at this stage that India's nuclear weapons program has been secured. Fashioning the deterrent is the task ahead.... While no one is prepared to formally concede that India and Pakistan are nuclear weapons powers, there is a clear acknowledgment that a 'roll back' of the two programs is not feasible.... On the question of sanctions...there has been change [toward] easing the restrictions....

"Strobe Talbott and his team have indicated that in the coming months there should be a number of moves which would signal an improvement in the atmospherics.... The U.S. side, too, can report a fair degree of success. Most importantly, India has stated that it will sign the CTBT.... If U.S. and other sanctions are eased and other ties are slowly resumed, then a key obstacle will be removed. There are two problems with respect to the CTBT though. The first is that within India there is still opposition to signing what [is regarded as] an unequal treaty which, furthermore, is not tied to a P-5 pledge to move towards time-bound disarmament.... On the FMCT, India is close to the U.S. position, namely that it would like to sign a treaty which leaves alone stocks of fissile material accumulated up to some specified date in the future. This would allow India to use its stock to develop a minimum deterrent.... India's record on export controls has been good.... Finally, from the U.S. point of view, bilateral ties between India and Pakistan have improved.... A lot can be done if the Pakistanis in particular adopt a quietly constructive approach and if India does not overreact to the 'K' word....

"In any case, Washington can take comfort from the fact that the invective in South Asia in the immediate aftermath of Pokhran II seems to have lessened. If this quick audit of the India-U.S. talks is correct, then the two sides are at a turning point. This does not mean that it is all plain sailing from here. In particular, if the Vajpayee government does not bring the opposition along on the CTBT, there could be trouble ahead.... Can Washington help here? Would it be possible for the United States to make a public statement on abolition that would satisfy Indian opinion? On the U.S. side, the easing of sanctions must be seen through, past the objections of nonproliferationists, the Jesse Helmses, and diplomatic partners such as China. A more clear-cut definition of India's deterrent may help the U.S. administration in this regard."

"Indo-U.S. Talks: The Deceptive Picture"

Sidharth Bhatia opined in the right-of-center Pioneer (2/9): "Much notice has been taken of the distinct warmth in the eighth round of talks between...Strobe Talbott and Jaswant Singh.... Among Indian observers...the impression has gained ground that the Americans are ready to acknowledge India as a genuine nuclear power and would lift sanctions soon, while India would prepare the ground for the eventual signing of the CTBT.... That the talks have, slowly and painstakingly, resulted in some level of mutual understanding is beyond any doubt.... At the very least, the tone of the exchanges is a far cry from the finger-wagging seen immediately after the test.... There is a certain sense of realism in the American position, and perhaps even a growing appreciation of India's security concerns.... But to think, as some Indians want to, that it will soon be status quo ante...may be a bit premature....

"The United States administration has stressed once again, in case we may have missed the point, that there is no change at all in the U.S.' primary objective of nonproliferation. If there has been any development at all--the U.S. administration has informed the world--it is that India has indicated it is willing to sign the CTBT. In return, the United States will allow World Bank loans to go through without any objections. There is something wrong with this picture. Wasn't the country assured repeatedly by the government that the sanctions would not impact on India except marginally? And that there was no linkage between multilateral loans and the signing of the CTBT?... India has apparently managed to convince the United States that nuclear deterrence is not merely a matter of numbers and it would be impossible to quantify an optimum level of deterrence.... But, to believe that the mere acknowledgment of these aspects of the Indian position will make everyone...suddenly jettison all that they want to achieve, is to live in a fool's paradise.... The Indian opposition parties, especially the Congress, have been lukewarm in their reaction to the latest round of talks [and] their nod will be critical. The government is in no position to take any unilateral decisions."

"CTBT Subterfuge"

The nationalist Hindustan Times asserted (2/5): "The Vajpayee government is seriously miscalculating if it thinks it can first cut a deal with the United States and then build a national consensus in favor of the controversial CTBT. It has, according to the United States, agreed not only to sign the CTBT but to advance its signature in return for the lifting of American-inspired lending curbs by international financial institutions (IFIs).... Despite India's quick disavowal of any linkage between the proposed IFI action and its CTBT signature, the U.S. statements can only embarrass the Vajpayee government.... The prime minister thus needs to move cautiously on this issue and not validate concerns about secret deal-making with the United States."

"U.S. Shows Signs Of Easing Sanctions"

The centrist Hindu front-paged this piece by associate editor K. K. Katyal (2/5): "The first concrete indications are available now of how the United States proposes to make a start with the easing of sanctions against India, imposed in the wake of Pokhran II. The American representative will not block the loan for a power project in Andhra Pradesh, due to be taken up by the World Bank towards the end of this month. The United States is contacting other industrialized countries of the G-8 to evolve a coordinated approach to facilitating the approval of the Indian loan.... The World Bank loan is for $125 million, and what is significant is not the amount but the first opportunity it provides to the United States to perform its part of the (bargain).... The relaxation of sanctions by the United States and a positive approach by India toward the CTBT were not meant to be seen as a quid pro quo, but as part of a series of positive steps calculated to remove tensions in the bilateral field. The new line on the World Bank loan to India this month is intended to create a conducive atmosphere, enabling New Delhi to make a definitive move towards participation in the CTBT. Once the United States sees evidence of increased Indian commitment to the treaty, it will, in concert with others of the G-8, extend the positive approach to other World Bank loans for India.... The CTBT-related issues represented one area in which there was tangible progress during the Jaswant Singh-Talbott talks."

"Duet On A Slow Beat"

Calcutta's independent, centrist Ananda Bazar Patrika stressed (2/5): "Whatever progress Singh and Talbott might have made in the word-game, at the end of the day it can only be measured by the yardstick of India's international influence and economic gains.... The issue of India's signing the CTBT is a good example.... It would be wise to sign the treaty only after extracting in exchange as much benefit as possible.... In fact, America's business lobby is in favor of withdrawing the sanctions against India, but that will be impossible for the United States without extracting some diplomatic advantage from India.... It remains to be seen how much political and economic benefit India gains internationally by bargaining...after the explosions."

"Positive Trends"

The right-of-center Indian Express had this piece by former Indian foreign secretary J.N. Dixit (2/4): "Three political trends in the [U.S.-Indian talks] are discernible: First, that both sides are agreed on a continuing exchange of views on the complicated and sensitive issue of India's nuclearization with patience. Second, there is a marginal acceptance of India's security requirement in terms of nuclear and missile capacities. Third, India is showing an inclination to join the mainstream of the international nonproliferation agenda.... Talbott, while indicating a willingness to structure Indo-U.S. relations in a context larger than nonproliferation considerations and indicating the willingness of the United States to be responsive to India's security concerns, has expressed the hope that in 1999 India would move back in the direction of being a part of the solution to the problem of nonproliferation."

"U.S. Wants To Binds India, Pakistan To Bilateral Process"

Islamabad correspondent Amit Baruah filed this analysis in the centrist Hindu (2/4): "Talbott in his discussions clarified that he did not want India and Pakistan to 'quantify' what they considered as a minimum, credible nuclear deterrent.... This, perhaps, is the most crucial aspect of the American agenda--a strategic restraint regime for South Asia.... As part of the Pakistani conception of the strategic restraint regime, Islamabad proposed to India the prevention of a nuclear and ballistic missile race, risk reduction mechanisms, avoidance of nuclear conflict, formalizing a moratorium on nuclear testing, non-induction of anti-ballistic and ship-launched ballistic missiles and a nuclear doctrine of minimum deterrent capability.... There is little doubt that this formulation enjoys U.S. backing.... Talbott clearly stated that the United States wanted to get going on a bilateral process between India and Pakistan that would not only involve confidence-building measures, but the elaboration and institutionalization of a minimum and credible nuclear deterrent. However, the challenges before the United States to get this process going are formidable...given the extreme reservations that both Pakistan and India harbor toward each other."

"U.S.' Diplomatic Anachronism"

The English-language Sentinel had this editorial (2/3): "Except for the certification in public by...Strobe Talbott that it was 'constructive and positive,' the latest...round...of the Indo-U.S. dialogue...seems to have failed to break the deadlock.... It is obvious, therefore, that Talbott had come with empty hands. This is unfortunate, as it reflects the very stubborn, verging on the arrogant, U.S. stand on the nuclear issue.... Obviously, it is a tough business for not just India, but also the United States to discover a minimum, common ground for agreement on the nuclear issue. It seems both India and the United States are in a outwit each other and are moving around in circles.... The process of dialogue, no matter how long and tortuous it has been, has undoubtedly helped both India and the United States to understand each other.... But till certain tangible movements can be seen on the U.S. side, one cannot be sanguine that the United States has really appreciated India's position or if this is only a posture for public consumption. In any case, the issue certainly cannot be solved through punitive measures like sanctions. Only the process of dialogue can break the impasse. The U.S. continuing the sanctions and the dialogue simultaneously is a diplomatic anachronism which needs to be ended quickly if it is serious about a breakthrough on the nuclear issue with India."

"Virtue Of Patience"

The centrist Times of India had this editorial (2/3): "It is clear that immense ground has been covered by both sides during the past eight months.... The past eight months have provided adequate time for U.S. policy makers to assess the degree to which Indian public opinion supports or opposes the various propositions they have advanced on the four areas under discussion. This time, the U.S. delegation took time off to interact with the media and had one meeting with analysts interested in national security affairs. They recognized that more effort had to be devoted to 'track II' (non-official) interactions between the two countries.... Though it is not in a position to accept India and Pakistan as regular nuclear weapon states in the NPT framework, Washington clearly understands it cannot cap, roll back and dominate the Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapon capability.... U.S. negotiators have given up asking India to define its credible minimum deterrent in numerical terms.... India is new to negotiations on a realpolitik basis, while the United States is a stranger to negotiating arms control with an autonomous democratic party. Hence, both sides have to learn to be patient."

"Reason For Hope"

The pro-economic reform Business Standard judged (2/3): "Indo-U.S. relations, after the jolt they received in 1998 when India went nuclear, now seem to be slowly on the mend....

"If there is a change, it must also be because both India and the United States have had the time to refine and redefine their initial hardline positions into something more realistic and workable.... Several things have changed since last May. From the U.S. point of view, the deadline for the signing of the CTBT has moved closer.... Then there has been the lifting of the ban on IMF loans to Pakistan...(and) President Clinton's proposed visit to the subcontinent.... Finally...there is the cold reality that India has stepped over the nuclear threshold.... What about India?... It seems unlikely that the United States would make major changes in its policy without getting significant satisfaction from India. What would satisfy it was spelled out by Strobe Talbott in his November speech at Brookings.... It now begins to look as if India has decided that by accepting those conditions, its national interest will not be harmed. It is not yet known what sort of assurances have been given to the United States, would seem that India has agreed to most, if not all, of the U.S. demands. No harm in that, if the United States, in turn, has agreed to let India have a minimum nuclear deterrent.... For the moment, [the two countries] are purring at each other. That surely is a reason for hope."

"A Cordial Environment"

Jagmohan Mathur commented in centrist Navbharat Times (2/2): "The talks were held in a cordial environment and some progress was indeed made. This does not mean, however, that all issues are resolved. India is firm on maintaining its minimum deterrent.... The United States saw how India managed to survive...harsh sanctions...[and] has realized that a cold relationship with India is against its interests."

"Jaswant-Talbott Talks Progress, Word By Word"

Diplomatic editor K.P. Nayar wrote in the centrist Telegraph (2/1): "The talks between...Jaswant Singh and...Strobe Talbott have been as much about semantics and cultural conflict as about arms control and national security.... If both sides passionately argued their respective case in support of a word or phrase, no less has been the intensity of the cultural conflict between the two delegations.... The Americans, for instance, came to the talks with a wish list of 13 items for nuclear India and were impatient for simultaneous progress on all those fronts. Typically, their attitude was that of a chief executive or a manager who went to a corporate conference with a memo pad, in a hurry to tick off items listed on the agenda. The Indians, and Singh in particular, have been relying on India's 'civilizational' experience in dealing with the United States in the aftermath of Pokhran II.... Out of this cultural conflict was born the phrase, now used repeatedly in relation to the Indo-U.S. dialogue: 'synergy of restraint.'... The incremental progress that India seeks directly contradicts the memo pad approach of the Americans. At the end of the talks last weekend, the 'synergy of restraint approach' appeared to have yielded dividends."

"Broad-Based Ties With America In The Offing"

The pro-economic reform Economic Times ventured (2/1): "For the first time, the promise of another round of talks...holds out concrete prospects. After three days of was agreed to take the bilateral relationship beyond the confining parameters of the nuclear issue.... The United States, according to commentators, has come a long way from the days of predicting that India had been transformed into the world's latest rogue state. The flexibility in the U.S. stance is evident even in the changed tone of Talbott himself, from his Brookings speech in November to the Stanford University speech in January.... There seems to be a feeling that a definitive point has been reached in the relationship.... While it would be too much to expect today's joint statement to make a breakthrough announcement, the possibilities of substantive action by both sides cannot be ruled out. First, a presidential visit is still in the cards and to that end India and the United States have to take demonstrable initiatives. Second, the review of the sanctions waiver should also be coming up later in the year as will the review of the CTBT.

"Both require more than closed-door diplomacy between two friendly interlocutors.... Both India and the United States continue to await a much-needed breakthrough."

"The Art Of Nuclear Diplomacy"

The centrist Hindu had this piece by strategic affairs editor C. Raja Mohan (2/1): "The [Talbott-Singh] talks, according to the statement, have laid 'the foundation for a new broad-based relationship that has eluded the United States and India in the past which both sides are determined to achieve in the future.' The translation:... India and the United States will now move towards a more normal relationship, despite the Indian nuclear tests that shocked Washington last year. But every one knows that some movement on the resolution of the outstanding differences on the CTBT, FMCT, export controls, and defense posture are important in the normalization of Indo-U.S. relations.... On [defense posture, i.e., what constitutes minimum nuclear deterrence] the two sides are laconic in stating that 'the security perspectives of the two sides were further elaborated and clarified and proposals for harmonizing these perspectives were explored.' This suggests a better American appreciation of what India means by 'credible, minimum deterrence'--the United States may be coming round to accepting...[that] it is not just a label for an open-ended nuclear weapons program.... The clue to the discussion on the CTBT lies in the formulation that 'the delegations believe progress was made in several of the subjects under discussion and remain committed to achieving more progress in the weeks ahead.' It certainly holds out the possibility that Washington would rescind some of the sanctions against India and make it easier for New Delhi to offer a more definitive commitment on the CTBT. In short, New Delhi and Washington may now have embarked on a series of unilateral but reciprocal actions that could help manage the nuclear differences and accelerate the normalization of bilateral relations."

"Towards A Clinton Visit?"

In the centrist Hindu, strategic affairs editor C. Raja Mohan speculated on a possible presidential trip to the subcontinent (1/31): "Clinton's travel to India could mark more than the normalization of Indo-U.S. relations after the May nuclear tests.... It could give a badly needed boost to bilateral ties that have stagnated for decades. In the last few weeks, the Clinton administration has been signaling its eagerness to pursue a more normal relationship with India, widen the bilateral agenda beyond the current obsession with nuclear nonproliferation and build a new a new partnership. For New Delhi, a trip by Clinton would signal an end to India's international isolation after its nuclear tests and the U.S. acceptance of the reality of India's nuclear weapons. It could be a shot in the arm for India's post-Pokharan diplomacy and standing in the world. What would it take then to arrange a visit by Clinton to India? The Clinton administration would naturally look for 'visible progress' on the nuclear front that would give it the political space to proceed with the visit.... The diplomatic challenge before Singh and Talbott is to initiate a process that will facilitate intensive bilateral engagement on a broad front, even as the efforts at resolving the nuclear dispute continue. Clinton's visit must be at the heart of that process. To make that possible, the two sides must find a way to define 'visible' progress on nonproliferation and transform the political atmosphere by lifting the economic sanctions against India. The CTBT could be the issue that could meet the criteria of visible progress."

"Dialogue Necessary On Deterrence, Nuclear Strategy"

K. Subrahmanyam asserted in the centrist Times of India (1/30): "One wonders whether it has occurred to Talbott that, more urgent than confidence-building [between India] and Pakistan, is restoration of confidence between India and the United States. His staff should have [provided] him various writings from the Indian press. It does not require a great deal of understanding of the peculiarities of the Indian psyche to draw the inference from them that Indians have little trust in U.S. statements.

"The declarations from Washington are not transmitted in a coherent wave length.... The problem today is the U.S. strategists' assertion that there is one god, one truth and only one strategy of nuclear deterrence and that is their own. They refuse to pay any attention to Indian views and dismiss them, saying that the all-knowing NATO had looked into the Soviet and Chinese no-first-use policies and found them purely declaratory and therefore not worth serious consideration.... If confidence has to be restored between the United States and India, there has to be a dialogue on respective deterrent philosophies and nuclear strategies.... The Indians are persuaded that their nuclear strategy based on no-first-use and minimum credible deterrent constitute the utmost in nuclear restraint. If the Americans brush it aside without even listening to it, there can be no harmonizing of the perceptions of the two sides."

"Spotlight On Talbott"

Strategic affairs editor C. Raja Mohan opined in the centrist Hindu (1/29): "The political mood here on the eve of the talks has been brightened by a series of statements from senior officials of the Clinton administration, including Mr. Talbott, indicating that the United States is looking at an agenda larger than nonproliferation and may be ready to normalize bilateral relations ruptured in the wake of India's nuclear tests last May. This new positive American approach does not reduce the salience of the nuclear question in Indo-U.S. ties but only reframes it.... There is clear political consensus in [India] against further nuclear testing.... There has been a greater movement toward the recognition that the CTBT does not fundamentally harm India's interests. It makes little sense for the United States, then, to make the formal signature and ratification an inflexible condition for the normalization of relations. American formalism on the CTBT is needless when the signals from the U.S. Senate suggest that Jesse in no mood to accelerate the schedule for the ratification of the treaty."

"Broaden The Dialogue"

The centrist Times of India averred (1/28): "So far, the United States has been one of the causes of nuclear proliferation in South Asia; but if Messrs. Talbott and Inderfurth are to be believed, the Clinton administration might finally be willing to act as a responsible power, one which is prepared to join the effort to consolidate the nuclear restraint already displayed by India and Pakistan. There is as yet no overt acknowledgement that China's nuclear proliferation to Pakistan--and Washington's connivance of that--was the root cause of India being compelled to conduct the Shakti tests. However, Talbott has noted that China adds an immensely complicating dimension to the security situation on the subcontinent.... One hopes Strobe Talbott will be in a position to set out in detail what Washington's strategy towards China and India is, and how long it is prepared to ignore China's missile and nuclear proliferation policies."

"Building Faith"

The right-of-center Pioneer had this op-ed by Bhabani Sen Gupta (1/28): "It is necessary for the two sides to wrap up an accord at their eighth round so that they can engage in a dialogue aimed at a larger strategic engagement on development, democracy and security. Talbott projected a hard line for the nuclear talks in his address at the Brookings last October. He should have known he would not get all that he asked for.... Talbott asked for non-weaponization. He cannot get it. He asked for non-deployment. He could not expect India to agree to it. However, what the government has offered to do is not insignificant.... The prime minister has declared that India means to build a minimum credible deterrent.... It is not fair for the U.S. administration to ask the Indian side to quantify the numbers involved in the minimum credible nuclear deterrent.... What the United States cannot wrest from India by a policeman's arrogance, it can probably get by placing its trust and good faith in the Indian leadership....

"If the eighth round leads to an accord resulting in the lifting of the sanctions, the points of dispute in the nuclear area can be taken up later as part of the larger strategic partnership dialogue.... Finally, the United States does not have to 'recognize' India as a nuclear power. Indeed, there is no badge of honor adorning the lapel of any of the nuclear five.... However, no one can wish away the fact that India and Pakistan have nuclear warheads and missiles in their arsenals.... If press reports are correct, the Pentagon and its patrons are said to be thinking in terms of getting back to Star Wars.... Talbott must concede that against this 'nuclear resurgent' U.S. backdrop, the [Indian] decision to sign the CTBT is a significant contribution to nonproliferation."

"Beyond The Nuclear Agenda"

Strategic affairs editor C. Raja Mohan observed in the centrist Hindu (1/26): "After an exclusive focus on the nonproliferation dispute in the last eight months, the Clinton administration appears to be bringing democracy and development to the center-stage of U.S. policy toward the subcontinent. A set of recent speeches by...Strobe Talbott and...Karl impart a sophistication to the current American diplomacy towards the subcontinent.... The pursuit of the broader agenda by the United States and India still remains tied to the ability of the two sides to cross the nuclear hurdle. But here again, there are signs of a new awareness in the United States of the complexities introduced by the democratic factor in India."

PAKISTAN: "American Resolve To Continue Sanctions On Pakistan"

Second-largest Urdu Nawa-e-Waqt opined (2/8): "Pakistan is well aware of the international community's concern on nuclear proliferation. Prime Minister Sharif has already announced that Pakistan will sign the CTBT by September. However, American dissatisfaction shows that the matter is not that simple. The circles are not wrong at all when they accuse America of not only exerting pressure to have Pakistan sign the CTBT, but also to force a nuclear rollback--to make an Islamic nuclear state a satellite of the Brahman nuclear state.... When Pakistan promised to sign the CTBT and participate in FMCT talks after the acceptance of its just demands, what justification has the United States to exert more pressure and extend threats of continuing sanctions?... If Americans really want to see good relations between India and Pakistan, they should make India agree to the resolution of the Kashmir issue in keeping with UN resolutions and Kashmiris' aspirations.... But why should we be a tool in America's hand, and thereby compromise our national interests? American admission of the failure of the recent talks is good from the Pakistani point of view."

"Understanding Rationale Behind U.S. Sanctions"

The Peshawar-based independent Frontier Post declared (2/8): "The United States has indicated in a strong manner that its sanctions against India and Pakistan will remain in force. The view from the American side is that Strobe Talbott's recent visit to the subcontinent has not ended on a positive note. This view apparently contradicts the feeling, both in India and Pakistan, that the United States may after all withdraw its sanctions with the intention to encourage both countries to take a significant step on the road to nonproliferation.... We believe that the Americans should not completely withdraw their sanctions for quite some time, which is just as well.... Islamabad should not overreact against the American decision to keep the sanctions in place. It is understandable. In the near future, we could well see Washington withdrawing only one sanction at a time in return for a verifiable move by both India and Pakistan away from their nuclear weapons."

"On U.S. Terms"

Popular Islamabad-based Urdu Ausaf averred (2/4): "Once again the government has chosen a way to revive its relations with the United States subject to the U.S. agenda, putting its own interests behind, which is not the path of integrity, freedom and self-reliance, but of slavery, disgrace and destitution.... However, the government should not forget that the nation, under whose pressure the government conducted the nuclear explosions, will always resist efforts to disgrace Pakistan under the U.S. agenda."

"Eighth Round Of Unsuccessful Parleys With U.S."

Karachi-based, Urdu Ummat had this editorial (2/4): "The self-styled champion of international peace, the United States and its allies, will never really desire the South and Central Asian countries to resolve their mutual crises and take the course of development and progress. Peace and stability in Asia would be detrimental to the interest of the United States and its Western allies. Where would they sell their arms and other commodities?... At this point in time, the United States is in a position to exert pressure on India to solve the Kashmir issue, but it is not interested in getting this basic problem resolved. [Instead], all U.S. emphasis is on the point that Pakistan should give up its nuclear program. We feel that Pakistan should make it clear to the United States before the next round of talks that Pakistan will not abdicate its position on Kashmir or its nuclear program in exchange for some economic aid. Pakistan should not bow down to the U.S. pressure on issues like its nuclear program and Osama Bin Laden. It is anticipated that, like the eighth round of talks, all the coming rounds of parleys will also be fruitless."

"Fresh Dialogue With America"

Pro-Muslim League Urdu-language Pakistan argued (2/4): "During his address at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott urged India and Pakistan to state their concepts about minimum nuclear deterrence. This was an indirect admission of this fact that both the countries have become nuclear powers. So to say, right after that, that, despite the fact, the two would not be recognized as nuclear powers, sounds illogical.... Strobe Talbott stressed the need for bilateral action and an agreement between both the countries on nuclear nonproliferation, fissile material production control and protection from nuclear dangers. This part of Talbott's reaction appears closer to realism."

"The Joint Statement"

An editorial in the center-right Nation maintained (2/4): "The joint statement issued at the conclusion of talks between the U.S. delegation and the Pakistani team, although claiming some success, had in fact little to show in concrete terms on the conditions that Pakistan had spelt out earlier. Among these were lifting of sanctions, Pakistan's security concerns, and Kashmir. The joint statement is either silent or non-committal on all three.... [On] the U.S.' main concerns: the CTBT, export of nuclear technology and material and 'strategic restraints,' it has already achieved its first goal and intends to take up the other two within the next few months.... Mr. Talbott's statement that it was 'very important that India and Pakistan define, conceptually and operationally, credible minimum deterrence which will be recognized by the United States and the world and is verifiable', is significant.... The operative word in Mr. Talbott's statement being 'verifiable'--one doubts if he will ever be able to persuade India or Pakistan to accept his proposal."

"Remain Firm Against America Agenda"

Second-largest Urdu Nawa-e-Waqt stressed (2/3): "The need of the hour is that we stick to our stand firmly, in view of: America's tilt toward India; the weak position of President Clinton (impeachment trial); and the India-Russia pact. Not only that, we should get the support of our time-tested friend, China, and continue with our nuclear and missile programs--a guarantee to our security and sovereignty--[as well as] continuing our efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue by presenting the question before world opinion. The role played by America in our economic destruction is something to reflect upon.... We should not extend any unacceptable assurances during the talks.... We should negate the impression that in exchange for economic benefits we have agreed to implement the American agenda. America will never forgive Nawaz Sharif for the May 28 tests. So instead of entertaining any wishful thinking, Nawaz Sharif should continue to show courage and not fall into any trap that brings instability to his policies and Pakistan's future."

"What Weakens The U.S. Nonproliferation Case"

Syed Talat Hussain argued in the center-right Nation (2/3): "One of the primary reasons the United States has had so much difficulty in selling its nonproliferation and security agenda in the subcontinent is that its proposals ring hollow against the backdrop of its own stand on many of the issues involved in this agenda.... Starting with the CTBT, Washington's position is undermined by the fact that its own Senate is sitting on ratification of the treaty. The arguments against ratification in the U.S. Senate have a resonance with many arguments forwarded in Islamabad by the anti-CTBT lobby. One of these arguments is that, by signing the treaty, Pakistan forecloses, forever, its path to nuclear expansion through open tests."

"New U.S. Approach To South Asia"

An op-ed column by Afzal Mahmood in Karachi-based independent Dawn (2/2) held: "The recent speeches of Strobe Talbott and Karl Inderfurth signal a new sophistication in the American diplomacy towards the subcontinent which is a welcome change from Washington's exclusive obsession during the past eight months with the nonproliferation issue.... A close look at recent speeches makes it abundantly clear that the Clinton administration has decided to bring democracy and economic development to the center-stage of American policy towards South Asia. So far, nonproliferation issues have been the main topics of discussion."

"The American Agenda In Pak-India Dialogue"

Popular Islamabad-based Ausaf held (2/2): "The failed talks between the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, and the Indian Foreign Minister clearly indicate that India is not ready to get entangled in the CTBT and NPT.... One item on the U.S. deputy secretary's agenda is to ask Pakistan to sign an agreement that it will not arm its missiles and aircraft with nuclear warheads. If Pakistan agrees to sign this, it would clearly demonstrate that the present government does not show any consideration for the security of the country and is following the course of acquiring dollars at the cost of national security. We hope that the government, in view of the national interest, will reject this proposal and will make it clear to the deputy secretary that Pakistan is not ready to discuss CTBT, FMCT or any other topic on the agenda unless India signs these agreements."

"When Will An Understanding On NPT Be Possible?"

Leading, mass-circulation Urdu Jang opined (2/2): "Ostensibly no agreement has thus far been achieved by the United States with Pakistan and India, but if the present circumstances are an indicator, it could safely be presumed that the United States has reached some 'silent agreement' with both these countries....

"The United States, which is forcing other countries to sign the CTBT, has not yet itself ratified the treaty, but in all likelihood this matter will be resolved by September.... In Islamabad, the outcome of talks between Mr. Talbott and Pakistan's foreign secretary will likely be the same as in India, i.e. nothing final will emerge, although Pakistan will get an opportunity to impress upon the United States the need to play some kind of effective role for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. The U.S. leadership must realize that Pakistan will not withdraw from its nuclear program or the Kashmir issue just for appeasement."

"The Imperatives In Pakistan-U.S. Dialogue"

An op-ed column by Munir Ahmad Khan in the centrist national News argued (2/2): "For Pakistan the overriding issue goes beyond nuclear nonproliferation. It seeks security and development for its survival in the 21st century. The United States wants peace, stability, growth and nonproliferation in South Asia. These are not contradictory agendas and convergence is possible. For the United States the real goal is restoration of close, mutually beneficial political, security and economic relations with Pakistan. It is only in this context that various issues can be addressed constructively.... The United States needs Pakistan because of its strategic and geopolitical location, which makes it a significant and unavoidable player in any search for peace and stability in this part of the world. On the other hand, Pakistan cannot weather the storms which lie ahead and grapple with its domestic, economic and political problems and external security challenges without greater international support and understanding. All this underlines the commonality of interest between the two countries and calls for closer relations."

"Crucial Nonproliferation Talks"

Islamabad's rightist English Pakistan Observer commented (2/2): "The nation expects that there shall be no compromise on the issues pertaining to national security. Irrespective of the government's stance delinking its stand on the CTBT from the Indian attitude on the issue, Pakistan's security compulsions stem from India's behavior toward peace and stability of South Asia. The fact that Pakistan had to respond to the Indian nuclear tests with its nuclear deterrence certainly endorses this logical conclusion. We, therefore, hope that Pakistani interlocutors to the deliberations will not ignore the fundamental truth of the objective situation in the region. Pakistan cannot afford to lower its guard on security issues, in the face of the expansionist and hegemonistic India. It is also hoped that the Pakistani officials will be able to drive this message home to Mr. Talbott in the current round of talks."

"Shielding Our National Interest"

An op-ed column by Muqadam Khan in the Peshawar-based, independent Frontier Post stressed (2/2): "If the dialogue fails, Washington will intensify its 'coercive' diplomacy vis-a-vis Islamabad, and more pressure on Pakistan will be exerted through sanctions.... At this crucial juncture of Pakistan's history, our leaders must display shrewdness and diplomatic skill to shield our national interest, otherwise the next U.S. demand will be a full-fledged roll-back of our nuclear program and inking of the NPT."

"Reliance On Arms: The U.S.' Sermon"

The lead editorial in second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt insisted (1/29): "On the eve of his trip to India and Pakistan, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth has stated that the United States hopes that both countries would limit their defense requirements.... Although Pakistan has reiterated its intent to sign the CTBT, this statement does not sound credible, and that is why the U.S. delegation is once again descending upon us. What Mr. Inderfurth has said, or rather ordered, before embarking on his visit to the region, goes against the dignity of an independent, sovereign nation.

"Therefore, he must be asked in what capacity he issued this decree.... This commanding tone of the United States violates our dignity and self-respect. Pakistani leaders should talk candidly with Mr. Inderfurth and Mr. Talbott and make it clear to them that until the core issue of Kashmir is resolved, Pakistan cannot afford any relaxation in its security and defense needs."

"A New Pakistani-U.S. Paradigm?"

An editorial in the center-right Nation (1/29): "Karl Inderfurth...has outlined the factors that will shape the U.S. relationship with Pakistan in the near future.... While Pakistan has committed in principle to the CTBT regime, it may be constrained by its security concerns from making a unilateral commitment. Similarly, the United States wants Pakistan to play its role in restoring peace to Afghanistan and, possibly, in tracking down Osama bin Laden.... The United States also sees the normalizing of relations between India and Pakistan as central to regional security.... If the United States wants the resolution of the dispute in the interests of regional security and world peace, it will have to exert pressure on India to that effect. Inderfurth's comments may contain the seeds of a new era of Pakistan-U.S. relations. Pakistan will have to weigh its options with care, and respond to the new developments in view of its own supreme national interest."


RUSSIA: "Substantial Progress"

Sergei Guly judged in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (2/5): "Substantial progress was made during the consultations U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott held in India and Pakistan the other day. There has been a thaw in relations between the two South Asian countries recently. This is all the more remarkable, since their internal problems which contribute to the continuing arms race have only grown worse since last May's tests. The White House has something to offer its friends, as well as something to deny them, in case they disobey. With possibilities like that, you can easily pretend to be equidistant from both antagonists. The USSR was good at mediating in South Asia in the 1960s. Moscow can't touch Washington for it today."

"U.S. Pressure Yields Fruit"

Reformist Izvestiya (2/3) ran this comment by Vladimir Skosyrev: "For fear of becoming a pariah in the global family of nations, India has given in to U.S. pressure. Its desire to get rid of the sanctions was not decisive--the U.S.-frozen loans are small compared to the scale of the Indian economy. The problem now is whether Islamabad is ready to follow suit.... In Soviet times, Moscow would take part in any serious talks on problems in South Asia. Not any more. Today the Americans are going it alone, trying to put an end to the nuclear arms race on the subcontinent."


JAPAN: "The Collapse Of Nonproliferation Treaty Feared"

Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri's Washington correspondent Hayashi observed (2/3): "Following U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Talbott's meetings with Indian officials, State Department spokesman Rubin suggested that the United States would partially lift sanctions against India if and when New Delhi signs the CTBT in March or April. Spokesman Rubin's suggestion [that the United States would require no more than India's signature of the CTBT for it to win a partial lifting of sanctions] indicated the immediate U.S. recognition of India as a nuclear power.... This is the same 'nuclear status' given to the five other nuclear powers. Given the present circumstances, the foundation of the nuclear nonproliferation system appears to be collapsing."

CHINA: "India Still Hesitates About Signing Test Ban Treaty"

Hu Weimin commented in Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao, 2/9): "New Delhi sources report that the India People's Party is leaning towards signing the CTBT in the first half of this year. However, it will bargain desperately with the United States in the final rounds of negotiation. Though this bargaining [is a] key to the signing of the CTBT, the really decisive factor [will be] the political parties [in India]."

HONG KONG: "The You, Me, Them Of Nuclear Talks"

The independent Hong Kong Standard had this editorial (2/3): "Washington is trying hard to formulate a new policy on nuclear South Asia, after its initial response last June when both India and Pakistan entered the exclusive nuclear club.... What Washington has to learn is that it cannot treat India in the same threatening manner as it does North Korea. India, because of its size, population and position on the world stage counts for far more than Pyongyang. Nor will it be bullied into signing any treaties unless and until it is ready to do so.... If Washington wants them to accept international treaties, there would have to be more tangible evidence that the established nuclear powers are ready to dismantle [their nuclear arsenals]. However it looks right now, the fact is that the total elimination of nuclear weapons lies at the heart of this dispute."

INDONESIA: "With No Breakthrough, U.S. And India Conclude Talks"

Leading, independent Kompas noted (2/2): "Of interest is why India negotiated with the United States about its development of nuclear weapons. Although it considered U.S. pressure unfair, India consented to talk because of concern about possible economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.... Unfair though the U.S demands may be, it is still beneficial to heed them."

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