US embassy cable - 98ISLAMABAD3966

PRIME MINISTER SUCCUMBS TO DOMESTIC PRESSURE, AND PAKISTAN CONDUCTS FIVE NUCLEAR TESTS

Identifier: 98ISLAMABAD3966
Wikileaks: View 98ISLAMABAD3966 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Islamabad
Created: 1998-05-28 15:48:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PARM MNUC IN PK
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 281548Z MAY 98
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7015
INFO AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE 
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY BONN 
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 
AMCONSUL KARACHI 
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 
USMISSION USVIENNA
USMISSION GENEVA 
AMEMBASSY OSLO 
AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 
AMCONSUL MUMBAI 
AMCONSUL CHENNAI 
AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL//POLAD//
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
NSC WASHDC
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
AMCONSUL LAHORE
C O N F I D E N T I A L ISLAMABAD 003966 
 
 
LONDON FOR POL/TUELLER 
CINCPAC/CENTCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  05/28/08 
TAGS: PREL, PARM, MNUC, IN, PK 
SUBJECT:  PRIME MINISTER SUCCUMBS TO DOMESTIC PRESSURE, AND 
PAKISTAN CONDUCTS FIVE NUCLEAR TESTS 
 
CLASSIFIED BY ACTING POLCOUNS DAN MOZENA.  REASON:  1.5 (B). 
 
1. (U) SOMBER AND TIRED LOOKING, PRIME MINISTER NAWAZ SHARIF TOLD 
HIS NATION MAY 28 EVENING THAT PAKISTAN HAD SUCCESSFULLY EXPLODED 
FIVE NUCLEAR DEVICES SEVERAL HOURS EARLIER IN THE DAY.  A RECURRING 
THEME THROUGHOUT THE SPEECH WAS THE FAILURE OF THE INTERNATIONAL 
COMMUNITY TO RESPOND ADEQUATELY TO THE INDIAN NUCLEAR THREAT 
BEGINNING AS FAR BACK AS THE INDIAN NUCLEAR TEST IN 1974 AND AS 
RECENTLY AS THE TESTS CONDUCTED EARLIER THIS MONTH.  NAWAZ SAID IF 
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAD TAKEN THE INDIAN THREAT SERIOUSLY, 
THEN PAKISTAN MIGHT NOT HAVE NEEDED TO TEST. 
 
2. (U) NAWAZ TRIED TO STEEL HIS NATION FOR TOUGH TIMES AHEAD AND 
DECLARED THAT HE AND ALL GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY LEADERS WERE READY 
FOR AN ERA OF AUSTERITY AND SIMPLICITY, STARTING WITH NAWAZ'S 
GIVING UP THE NEWLY-OPENED AND PALATIAL PRIME MINISTER'S 
SECRETARIAT BUILDING, WHICH HE PROPOSED COULD BE CONVERTED INTO A 
HOSPITAL, WOMEN'S UNIVERSITY, OR SOME OTHER CHARITY USE.  HE URGED 
PAKISTANIS TO BRACE THEMSELVES FOR DIFFICULT TIMES AHEAD AND TO 
FACE THESE DIFFICULTIES COURAGEOUSLY AND BOLDLY.  HE DECLARED 
PAKISTAN'S OPTIONS OF BECOMING SLAVES OR LEADING HONORABLE AND 
INDEPENDENT LIVES LEFT PAKISTAN NO CHOICE. 
 
3. (U) REFLECTING INDO-PAK TIT-FOR-TAT MENTALITY, NAWAZ SAID 
PAKISTAN HAD RESPONDED TO INDIA'S MISSILE TESTS WITH ITS OWN TEST 
OF THE GHAURI MISSILE LAST MONTH, AND PAKISTAN HAS NOW RESPONDED TO 
INDIA'S FIVE NUCLEAR TESTS WITH FIVE OF ITS OWN.  HE DECLARED THAT 
THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE PAST DAYS IS NOW GONE, AND IF INDIA IS 
AGGRESSIVE, PAKISTAN WILL FIGHT BACK -- THE ARMED FORCES ARE 
PREPARED TO FIGHT AND THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS ARE PREPARED TO MEET 
ANY CHALLENGE.  NAWAZ SAID THAT IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS HE WILL AGAIN 
SPEAK TO THE NATION TO ANNOUNCE A "NATIONAL AGENDA." 
 
4. (U) IN A DIPLOMATIC SOP, NAWAZ PRAISED THE CHINESE, WHOM HE 
CALLED GREAT AND RELIABLE FRIENDS AND EXPRESSED APPRECIATION FOR 
THE JAPANESE, WHOM HE SAID WOULD HAVE AVOIDED HAVING HAD THEIR 
CITIES SUBJECTED TO NUCLEAR ATTACK HAD JAPAN HAD NUCLEAR WEAPONS. 
HE SAID HE WAS GRATEFUL FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON'S FIVE CALLS AND SAID 
THE PRESIDENT UNDERSTOOD PAKISTAN'S DIFFICULTIES. 
 
5. (C) COMMENT:  AT THE END OF THE DAY, NAWAZ FELL VICTIM TO THE 
HARDLINERS BOTH IN THE OPPOSITION AND WITHIN HIS OWN GOVERNMENT WHO 
WERE RELENTLESS IN WHIPPING UP A MEDIA FRENZY DEMANDING A PAKISTANI 
RESPONSE IN KIND.  THERE WERE FEW EFFECTIVE DOMESTIC COUNTERVAILING 
FORCES BUILDING MEDIA AND POPULAR SUPPORT FOR RESTRAINT.  NAWAZ'S 
DECISION TO TEST WAS FUELED BY CONCERNS THAT HE COULD NOT AFFORD TO 
GIVE HIS FRAGMENTED OPPOSITION THE "NAWAZ-IS-WEAK-ON-INDIA" ISSUE 
TO COALESCE AROUND IN THEIR BID TO FORCE HIM FROM POWER.  IN HIS 
SPEECH, NAWAZ PLAYED TO PAKISTANI FEARS OF INDIAN EXPANSIONISM AND 
DISTRUST OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.  IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN HOW 
LONG PAKISTANIS WILL RALLY AROUND THE FLAG ONCE INTERNATIONAL 
SANCTIONS KICK IN, FURTHER CHALLENGING THIS ALREADY VULNERABLE 
ECONOMY.  NAWAZ'S NOTION THAT PAKISTANIS WILL "SACRIFICE" BY GIVING 
UP LONG CHERISHED "RIGHTS" SUCH AS STEALING NATURAL GAS AND 
ELECTRICITY AND AVOIDING TAXES STRIKE US AS MORE WISHFUL THAN 
REALISTIC.  PAKISTANIS HAVE ALWAYS PREFERRED TALKING ABOUT EATING 
GRASS (IN PURSUIT OF NATIONAL SECURITY) RATHER THAN ACTUALLY HAVING 
TO EAT IT. 
 
 
SIMONS 

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