Pak ploy to cap Indian nuke pile
Nun forced to drink urine: FIR
Laloo?s Bihar in circle of Barh

New York, Sept. 23 
Sixteen months after the Pokhran tests, having failed to roll back India?s nuclear programme, an effort has begun here in New York to restrict India to the role of a second rate nuclear weapons state.

By proposing bilateral Indo-Pakistan talks ?for an agreement to achieve balance in fissile material stocks?, Pakistan foreign minister Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday set the ball rolling in this effort to put new pressure on India on the nuclear issue.

Speaking in the UN General Assembly, Aziz proposed these bilateral talks even as India and Pakistan participated in the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty negotiations which will commence early next year in Geneva.

Aziz also proposed a multilateral conference with the participation of all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (P5), India and Pakistan ?and other interested major powers? to promote the goals of strategic restraint and stability in South Asia.

He urged the international community to put pressure on India as part of this effort to disavow the draft nuclear doctrine, to scrap plans to deploy nuclear weapons on land, air or sea, to eschew the acquisition of anti-ballistic missile systems and military related capabilities in space, and finally, to cut back on its plans to purchase and develop new conventional weapons systems. Aziz appealed to prospective suppliers of conventional weapons to India to reconsider their arms sales policies.

While the package of arms control proposals in Aziz?s speech is carefully designed to make it attractive to the nuclear evangelists and even the Group of Eight (G8) nations which came out strongly against the Pokhran tests last year, the focus during the rest of the current General Assembly session will be on the idea of bilateral talks on fissile material stocks.

It is widely acknowledged that India has tremendous superiority over Pakistan in fissile material stocks required to produce nuclear bombs.

Because India?s fissile material stocks are unknown ? yet substantial ? the US has been repeatedly demanding during talks between external affairs minister Jaswant Singh and deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott that India should define its minimum nuclear deterrent ? fix the number of the nuclear bombs it wants to produce.

Singh has refused to quantify the deterrent on the plea that numbers are not the issue. If India and Pakistan agree on a balance in fissile material stocks, as Aziz has proposed, there will be no further need for the US or anyone else to insist on India defining a minimum nuclear deterrent. India will only be able to produce as many nuclear weapons as Pakistan has.

What that number is to be, will no longer be a secret since the US is most likely aware of how much Pakistan?s fissile material stocks are!

Moreover, India will then be unable to achieve parity with even China in the number of nuclear weapons since the limited stocks will leave New Delhi unable to make as many nuclear bombs as its military strategists would like.

This would mean that within the nuclear club, while the P5 will have as many nuclear bombs as they like, both India and Pakistan will, forever, be consigned to a second rate nuclear status.

Even Israel may end up having more nuclear weapons than India or Pakistan because as an undeclared nuclear weapons state, none of these restrictions will apply to Israel.

The Aziz proposal is expected to go down well with those who have been steadfastly opposing the nuclearisation of South Asia for two reasons.

First, it is a replay of a US proposal made during P.V. Narasimha Rao?s prime ministership which called upon India and Pakistan to make a public commitment not to produce any more fissile materials, pending the FMCT talks. Rao rejected the idea.

Second, from their point of view, it represents an advance on non-proliferation in South Asia,

More significantly, the Pakistan foreign minister?s speech represents the end of a tactical alliance between Delhi and Islamabad in the UN on the nuclear issue following the convergence ? albeit temporary ? of their interests in the light of the Pokhran and Chagai tests.    

Patna, Sept. 23 
A nun has complained to the Chapra police that she was stripped and forced to taste urine by a group of men who abducted her.

The incident, which occurred on September 20, according to the complaint, has come to light just 48 hours before the Chapra constituency goes to polls on September 25. An FIR has been filed at the town police station of Chapra.

Enraged by the ?atrocious incident?, a delegation of Christian missionaries tried to meet Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi this evening. However, the meeting could not take place and their complaint was received by the chief minister?s office.

An inspector-general has been asked to look into the complaint.

In the letter of complaint, Bettiah diocese press secretary Allen R. Johannes said the nun, who belonged to St Joseph Church, was abducted on her way to the market by the driver of an autorickshaw and two other men.

She was tied up, stripped and forced to drink their urine, the FIR says. She was threatened with rape if she refused and released later with a warning. The men reportedly accused her of converting people. According to the FIR, the men told her: ?We will teach the Christians a lesson after the elections are over.?    

Barh, Sept. 23 
Vijay Krishna is a would-be giant killer who must by now be terribly used to getting killed; every time he girds his loins and swings his mace he ends up flat on his back. Pity he has an opponent like Nitish Kumar. Pity Vijay Krishna continues to think he can beat him.

Pre-poll forecasts of Nitish Kumar?s imminent defeat have become a bit of a joke in Barh now. It happens every time. Vijay Krishna puts out the invincible arithmetic of the Rajput-backward-Muslim combination, spices it up with anti-incumbency disgruntlement with Nitish Kumar and serves it as his recipe for victory. And every time he ends up eating humble pie, with Laloo Yadav for company.

Barh is a prestige seat for Laloo and Vijay Krishna; talk of worsting Nitish Kumar is almost an obsessive pre-election preoccupation with the two. But Barh is one of those things for the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ? the more they want to win here, the more difficult it gets.

It is not at all surprising that Vijay Krishna is out predicting doom for Nitish Kumar yet again. The Yadavs and Muslims are with him, the Rajputs have consolidated, specially after this week?s daylight murder of a Thakur trader, the mood is silently changing. ?Equations are changing quickly in our favour,? says a Vijay Krishna man at the RJD office in Bakhtiyarpur, scene of the murder of the Rajput tradesman, ?You will see the result, the anger against Nitish will show up.?

Changes are taking place in Barh?s vast backyard expanse but not to Vijay Krishna?s script. For the first time you can witness a formidable anti-Laloo socio-political alliance coalesce in Bihar?s rural heartland: the BJP?s upper castes, Samata?s Kurmi-Koeri support base, Ram Vilas Paswan?s Dalits, and even a section of other backward communities brought in by the Janata Dal (United). This is almost the combination that the Congress used for decades to hold sway over the state. Only, instead of the OBCs, the Congress had the Muslims.

?The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has almost succeeded in conjuring a social combination that threatens to uproot Laloo Yadav who has so far looked quite invincible in his Yadav-Muslim-Dalit fortress,? says a senior official who has long worked closely with Laloo Yadav.

?Anti-Lalooism surges in every election but this time it has a strong platform. It is not a paper sentiment, it is actually working on the ground.?

This is not the first election in Bihar where ?defeat Laloo? has been the dominant slogan of anti-Laloo forces but it does appear to be the first time that anti-Laloo sentiment has been channelised into a consolidated political groundswell: the upper castes, the lesser backwards like Kurmis and Koeris, the Dalits, all are in the drive-Laloo-out campaign together.

Barh is an instructive case in how the political nature of the alliance against Laloo has changed. In the 1995 Assembly elections, the fledgling Samata Party had struck a deal with the CPI(ML), influential in some sections of central Bihar which is also Nitish Kumar?s homeground, in a bid to undo Laloo Yadav. Nitish then was, in fact, projecting himself as future chief minister; his anti-Lalooism was as strong as it is today.

But the 1995 result? Laloo swept Bihar with an unexpected two-thirds victory and the Samata Party managed seven seats in the Assembly ? a tattered figleaf barely covering its dignity.

The Samata-CPI(ML) alliance had remained a leader-level deal, neither worked to transfer votes to the other. Nitish and other parties that now form the National Democratic Alliance, seem to have learnt their lessons from 1995 well.

The anti-Laloo alliance in Bihar this time is not merely about Nitish shaking hands with Paswan and Paswan shaking hands with the BJP; it is about their constituencies, their social bases shaking hands as well.

So if Nitish has been feeling a little insecure about the Dalit and Rajput votes in Barh, Paswan and Anand Mohan Singh, the militant Rajput protagonist from north Bihar, have sent in their platoons to help.

And if Anand Mohan Singh?s wife, Lovely Anand, has needed to shore up backward votes in Vaishali, Nitish has been there to campaign. Paswan himself makes a strange sight speaking under the BJP?s saffron banner but he has done so quite unashamedly; and in doing so, he has sent the message across: the priority at the moment is to oust Laloo Yadav, doesn?t matter what compromises, personal or ideological, he has to make for that.

It is not simply arithmetic that the anti-Laloo forces have worked on this time, it is also chemistry. ?There is a sense now that Laloo is going,? says Paswan, ?because we have given one voice, one flag to the anti-Laloo sentiment. Many of the people I am campaigning for in this election have been my strong adversaries but we decided that in Bihar there is no bigger adversary than Laloo.?

Paswan and Nitish Kumar aren?t the best of friends, personally or politically, but in Barh, as in Bihar at large, they have a common adversary who makes their differences quite irrelevant. Pity Vijay Krishna.    


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