Questions remain despite statement

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 June, 1996, 12:00am

The United Front Government's nebulous declarations on security and foreign policy issues produce more questions than answers.

By declaring it will retain its nuclear option but continue to work for global nuclear disarmament, strengthen the non-alignment movement in the post-Cold War era and restore greater autonomy to the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, the 13-party alliance has attempted to be all things to all people, but without much conviction.

Its policy framework has not spelt out how the Government proposes to achieve these goals, nor has it mentioned its policy towards neighbouring Pakistan.

All the Front Government's policy paper has said on Indo-Pakistan relations is that it wants to 'forge close and friendly ties with its South Asian neighbours'.

This hiatus is all the more surprising as mutual animosity has led to a nuclear and missile race between the two countries and, more recently, the refusal to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, under negotiation in Geneva.

India's stand in Geneva is that it will keep its nuclear options open if the treaty does not commit itself to the elimination of all nuclear weapons in a time-bound framework.

Pakistan and India, form the 'lynchpin' to the treaty, due to be signed at the UN headquarters in September, and it would be much diluted if neither of the two were signatories.

But, according to recent reports from Geneva, the United Front has given no policy directive to the Indian delegation at the disarmament talks.

'If no policy framework is provided to project India's viewpoint, its nuclear status could once again be jeopardised,' a nuclear official in Delhi said.

He said the five declared nuclear-weapon states were under pressure from the United States to wrap up the conference in the next few weeks, and the vague stand India was following would prove harmful.