Monday, April 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak army favours signing CTBT 
Cecil Victor

New Delhi
Trying to make a virtue out of a necessity, Pakistan’s military generals, long opposed to signing the offensive document, have advised Chief Executive Officer, Gen Pervez Musharraf, to open negotiations with the USA to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Using jargon from another vitiated area of geopolitics, cricket, they apparently believe that it is a neat way of putting India “on the back foot”.

By agreeing at their recent meeting to sign the CTBT, Pakistan Army Corps commanders hope to garner dual comfort — removing the provocation for the imposition of economic sanctions and, at the same time, turn public opinion against India to force it to follow suit.

India has quite forcefully told the UN-sponsored Committee on Disarmament in the memorable words of Indian Ambassador Arundhati Ghosh that it would never become party to a discriminatory treaty, “Not now, not ever”. Pakistan’s position, hitherto, was that it would also not sign as long as India did not do so. There was, therefore, never any real principled basis for Pakistan’s position on the CTBT.

The military in Pakistan, which has always retained exclusive control of the nuclear weapons programme and has always soundly slapped any civilian wrist that sought to move to control the nuclear button, has used the privilege to extend its own sphere of influence and “strategic depth”. The nuclear weapons programme was initiated by former Prime Minister.

The Pakistani military establishment’s apparent volte face on the CTBT issue is the product of the current state of the country’s economy. Buffeted by the military’s misadventures, first in forcing former Prime Minister to host a series of nuclear tests in retaliation for India’s Pokhran experiments in May, 1999, (thereby attracting sanctions); and then launching the intrusion into Kargil in the misplaced conviction that its nuclear weapons would deter India from using its conventional military strength to evict the Northern Light Infantry from the icy heights, Pakistan is on the verge of an economic collapse in spite of General Musharraf’s many glowing promises.

The military is now trying to retrace its steps in the hope that the signing of the CTBT will lead to the lifting of the noose of international economic sanctions, that has resulted not just in the flight of capital but also of its professionals, who prefer exile abroad to economic deprivation at home.

The Pakistan military is also naively hoping that the nations who imposed the sanctions will overlook its none-too-subtle attempt to set up facilities to be able to conduct nuclear testing within the confines of laboratories instead of overtly, as in the mountains of Baluchistan in 1999. In short, putting the nuclear weapons programme back in the basement where it was born.

There are many signs that indicate that the move may not bring the strategic gains the Pakistani generals are expecting. It is possible that sanctions may be lifted, mainly guided by a desire on the part of the international community to pull Pakistan back from the brink of becoming a failed economic State. However, the concomitant Pakistani expectation that pressure would be mounted on India to follow suit and sign the CTBT is unlikely to be fulfilled.

India is unlikely to allow itself to be thus manipulated. Its own position on the CTBT remains as valid as it was when Ms Arundhati Ghosh told the world “Not now, not ever”.

Besides, the recent confrontation in which a US spy plane crashed into a Chinese fighter and soon found 24 US military intelligence specialists in Chinese custody has exposed Washington’s intentions in that part of the world. Trying to put pressure on India over the CTBT issue would be highly impolitic at the moment, particularly because India was forced to exercise its nuclear option on account of Pakistan-China collusion in nuclear weapons technology.

Today, the USA itself is confronted by the spectre of Pakistani nuclear weapons and knowhow falling into the hands of Islamist fundamentalists and admirers of Osama bin Laden. ADNI


Indian envoy’s house in Pak encroached upon

Islamabad, April 15
The Indian High Commission here has lodged a complaint to the Pakistan Government over the encroachment of the Indian Consulate-General’s residence in Karachi, which has remained closed since 1995.

In its complaint to the Foreign Office here lodged on Friday, the Indian High Commission said it had been brought to its notice that a person, illegally claiming that he had obtained the authorisation from the High Commission, had rented out the house of the ICG to another local resident.

It has been learnt that the tenant had broken into the premises, cut down trees and even begun alterations, the complaint said, adding that no authorisation had been given by the High Commission to any person to rent out the properties of the Indian Government at Karachi.

“The aforementioned are, therefore, criminal activities being carried out illegally and in an unauthorised manner at this Government of India property.

“Accordingly, the High Commission requests the esteemed ministry to kindly have the matter urgently looked into to secure immediate evacuation of the present encroachment under intimation to the High Commission and to ensure that no encroachment takes place in the future at any of the Government of India properties in Karachi,” it said.

The High Commission has also asked the Pakistan Government to institute criminal cases of fraud and trespass against the encroachers and arrest them before initiating appropriate legal action.

The Indian High Commission also asked the Pakistan Government to ensure the safety and security of Indian Government properties in Karachi, under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.

“It would also be appreciated if necessary security arrangements are made at all the said properties to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future,” the complaint said.

High commission officials said that a similar complaint had been lodged with the Karachi police.

When contacted, an official spokesman of the Pakistan government said that he was not aware of the incident.

The ICG has remained closed since 1995 at the request of Pakistan. In all, the Indian Government has six properties, including the office and residences of the staff at prime locations in Karachi which have remained shut.

High Commission officials said that the properties were found to be intact during the visit of Indian High Commissioner Vijay Nambiar to the port city last month.

The encroachments were, however, brought to the notice of the High Commission by officials of Indian Airlines, who in turn were flooded with inquiries whether the ICG was being reopened.

During his visit to Karachi, Mr Nambiar had made a request to the Pakistan Government to permit India to reopen the consulate office in view of heavy demand for Indian visas from Karachi businessmen. PTI

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