CTBT - to sign or not to sign

Columnist ALI ASHRAF KHAN discusses the pros and cons of signing the CTBT

So, CTBT has also been politicized internationally as Kalabagh Dam has been politicized nationally. And the beauty is that those who politicize national and international issues do not think in terms of nation and the country but in terms of their own seat of power and well being. CTBT has also fallen a prey to this political malady of expediency. While the American law makers have refused to rectify CTBT, their lame duck is kicking about the ball of CTBT into the different capitals of the world to earn a place for himself in history, so, this is what CTBT is. Let us go into the pros and cons of signing or otherwise this much-disgruntled document.

If Pakistan signs CTBT it will be one of the favoured few under the canopy of Globalization with no sanctions and a few billion dollars to boot for which the posterity will be cursing us as we do our ancestors. Of course it will be a boom to the powers that be, but our sovereignty will be at stake. The nation has to choose between the crumbs of bread falling from the American table and the sovereignty of Pakistan, as well as our nuclear options will be open for display before the so-called United Nations inspectors.

If we do not sign the CTBT then what happens, our beggars bowl will not be full to the brim and we will have to live within our own means and rely on our own strength and resources with self-respect which has been sold for a piece of loaf and that too for the rulers, while the masses pay the price of the loaf. It is wrong to say that our defence will not be in jeopardy by signing the CTBT. This may be the views of a civil servant but not a military man's, if we lay open our arsenal, we will suffer the same fate as Iraq, which is most unenviable at the moment. Again the proverbial monkey is sitting between the two cats - India and Pakistan, while India waits and sees, we are forced to sign CTBT to earn a royal visit from the lame duck of United States, is it worth that much, let the nation decide, a referendum on this issue is the call of the hour, which should be fair and not manipulated as was done during the regime of General Ziaul Haq to install him in power for five years.

United States policies around the globe have never been stable and uniform based on principals, it differs from country to country according to the requirements of time and place, their policies in respect of South Asia is evident manifestation of the American interest and that is why while they stress on Pakistan to sign the CTBT, they do not pressurize India to that extent to sign the CTBT. American interest demands India to be their policeman in the East and Pakistan to live under the Indian hegemony as does Bangladesh, who does consider Indian hegemony as a scourge, yet an inevitable scourge. Can Pakistan accept this position? The nation has to answer and not the government.

Sanctions are more a political weapon than a peaceful approach to the problems facing the globe, when India exploded the atom bomb in 1974, the super powers approved it, and it invited all the possible sanctions and a pressure to role back our peaceful nuclear programme. This is how the diplomacy runs and CTBT is also a part of global diplomacy. Let us play our diplomatic cards well on this issue, it is more a diplomatic issue than a nuclear issue.

With the American law makers not ratifying the CTBT, it was considered that the pressure on Pakistan will subside but the professionals in the policy making of United States still consider it imperative that Pakistan must sign CTBT post haste and that is why President Clinton is harping on this tune so much so that his visit to Pakistan has also been linked to signing of the CTBT. National interest is more important than the visit or no visit of an American President.

By signing the CTBT, Pakistan would be inviting the tiger to its den and be on his mercy as is Iraq. It is not necessary to enter into a match of wits with the United States but we should keep our heads cool and maintain our struggle for the liberation of Kashmir from Indian military rule because it is the legitimate cause and we want that all those champions of human right take a stand and support this just cause as the United States and its allies are united to put the new Austrian government in quarantine just because a right wing freedom party has joined the coalition government there which does not suit the future interest and designs of the global village programme.