The Roots of Rhetoric: Politics of Nuclear Weapons in India and Pakistan

The Roots of Rhetoric: Politics of Nuclear Weapons in India and Pakistan

The Roots of Rhetoric: Politics of Nuclear Weapons in India and Pakistan

The Roots of Rhetoric: Politics of Nuclear Weapons in India and Pakistan

Synopsis

In an unanticipated flurry of atomic weapons testing--a total of 10 tests over 20 days in 1998--India and Pakistan announced to the world their emergence as full-fledged nuclear powers. How, Nizamani asks, did nuclear escalation come to dominate the agendas of both nations? In a comparative analysis, Nizamani reveals the political underpinnings of nuclear weapons development, arguing that Indian and Pakistani nuclearization is linked to processess of national formation.

Excerpt

For the six men who assembled in the sitting room of the prime minister's official residence . . . that hot Monday afternoon, it was a tense wait. Three simultaneous nuclear explosions rocked the scorching sands of the Pokhran test range in the Rajasthan desert at 3:45 P.M. Exactly ten minutes later, the phone rang in the adjoining room. The prime minister's Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra lifted the receiver hesitantly to hear an excited voice cry "Done!" Putting the caller on the hold, Mishra reentered the room. Picking up the receiver, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in an emotion-choked voice, thanked the two scientists who made it happen. L. K. Advani was seen wiping away his tears.

--India Today, May 25, 1998

India and Pakistan became de facto members of the international nuclear club by conducting ten nuclear explosions within a span of twenty days in May 1998. These explosions shattered more than just the grounds of the test sites. Precipitated by a fragile coalition government in New Delhi, led by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the overt embracing of nuclear weapons by the two poverty-stricken, hostile neighbors is a result of the dynamics of internal politics. Analysts, experts, journalists, and policy- makers--both in the subcontinent as well as abroad--share the belief that nuclear programs of Islamabad and New Delhi enjoy a consensus in these societies as the guarantors of national security and symbols of national . . .

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