The response to the Indian tests at Pokhran have come with the five tests conducted by Pakistan in the Chagai hills. This is not a vindication of the policy adopted by the BJP-led government as the Prime Minister has claimed, but an inevitable confirmation of how wrong has been the reversal of India's long-standing nuclear policy. It has undone the progress in establishing good neighbourly relations with our neighbours and securing peace in the region. The shortsighted step taken by the Vajpayee government and the reaction of the Pakistani government is leading to the step by step escalation in the nuclear arms race in the subcontinent and its attendant tensions.
Such a course is harmful to the peoples of both countries and will only serve to divert attention and resources from the pressing and massive problems of poverty and underdevelopment in both India and Pakistan. While the BJP government has with its precarious majority undermined the sound foreign and nuclear policies being pursued, the Pakistani government, which faces more serious problems, will find it convenient to distract the people's attention. Any move to whip up tensions will only hamper and retard the prospects of economic and social progress of both countries.
The Vajpayee government should not seek to rouse national chauvinism on a sensitive issue like nuclear weapons. It should immediately open a dialogue with the Pakistani government to defuse tensions. The CPI(M) and the CPI want to make it clear that a national consensus can be evolved only on the following basis: (a) India should not go for weaponisation and the Vajpayee government must not make or deploy nuclear weapons; (b) the government should immediately declare no first-use of nuclear weapons; (c) the government should not proceed towards signing the CTBT; (d) India should step up efforts for univsrsal nuclear disarmament; and (e) what should be done in the post-Pokhran test period should be discussed with all national political parties so that a common approach is formulated.
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