20 September, 2020

Striking A Bargain

Vajpayee scores a qualified success—by clarifying his stand on the CTBT and resuming dialogue with Pakistan

Striking A Bargain

IT was an eagerly awaited speech. Global leaders were curious about what prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had to say on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Especially after Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif had offered to sign on the dotted line, subject to the lifting of sanctions imposed on Islamabad after its nuclear tests in May.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 24, Vajpayee offered a cleverly nuanced statement of intent not to delay the treaty coming into force by September next year, but making it contingent on the "successful conclusion" of the discussions India is having with "key interlocutors" (read the US) on "a range of issues", including the CTBT. Vajpayee left no one in doubt that while India would not stand in the way of the treaty coming into force on schedule, the onus was on "other countries" to adhere to the treaty "without conditions".

The message was clear. Now that India had harmonised its national imperatives and security obligations, it was involved in a dialogue with...



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