Friday, August 21, 2009

Diplomatic Push 1996-97

In the last several years, the Indo-Pakistani relationship has veered sharply between rapprochement and conflict. After taking office in February 1997, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif moved to resume official dialog with India. A number of meetings at the foreign secretary and prime ministerial level took place, with positive atmospheres but little concrete progress. In a speech at the UN, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif offered to open talks on a non-aggression pact with India, proposing that both nations strike a deal to restrain their nuclear and missile capabilities.
Nuclear Rivalry 1998: The arms race between the rivals escalated dramatically in the 1990s. In May 1998, India conducted underground nuclear tests in the western desert state of Rajasthan near the border with Pakistan. In response, Pakistan conducted six tests in Balochistan. In the same year, Pakistan tested its longest range missile, the 1,500 km (932 mile) Ghauri Missile, named after a 12th Century Muslim warrior who conquered part of India. Both sides were heavily criticized by the international community for the tests as fears of a nuclear confrontation grew.
The United States ordered sanctions against both countries, freezing more than $20bn of aid, loans and trade. Japan ordered a block on about $1bn of aid loans. Several European countries followed suit, and the G-8 governments imposed a ban on non-humanitarian loans to India and Pakistan. The UN Security Council condemned India and Pakistan for carrying out nuclear tests and urged the two nations to stop all nuclear weapons programmes.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee Visit to Pakistan 1999: The relationship improved markedly when Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee travelled to Lahore for a summit with Sharif in February 1999. There was considerable hope that the meeting could lead to a breakthrough. They signed the Lahore accord pledging again to “intensify their efforts to resolve all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir”.


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