Settling a score?


Issue: "Foster or faster?," June 6, 1998

Joyful Pakistanis shot their guns in the air, celebrating the news last week that their country had successfully detonated five nuclear bombs-settling, in the words of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, "the score with India."

"Today the flames of the nuclear fire are all over," Mr. Sharif said. "I am thankful to God that ... we have jumped into these flames ... with courage." He also thanked ally China-another of India's rivals-for its help but did not specify what that entailed.

In announcing the explosions, Pakistani government officials said they were giving nuclear muscle to a missile capable of striking most parts of India, "a befitting reply to any misadventure by the enemy," an official statement said.

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In Washington, White House officials promised tough economic sanctions against Pakistan, matching the punishment levied on India, whose nuclear tests caught U.S. intelligence by surprise. Since then India has been slapped with other economic sanctions, most recently last week when the World Bank indefinitely postponed a decision on whether to extend more than $800 million in loans.

Pakistan is much more dependent on international assistance than India, and sanctions are bound to seriously hurt its already struggling economy. Many economists fear Pakistan will default on its $800 million debt payment due at the end of this month.

-based on reports from The Associated Press


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