In the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan in early 2002, U.S. relations with Pakistan and its leader, President General Pervez Musharraf, improved, which further aggravated India-Pakistan relations. While economic sanctions were lifted, Pakistani militants staged several attacks and bombings; in one occassion, targeted Indian and Kashmiri legislatures. The United States feared possible nuclear retaliation and advised Americans to evacuate both South Asian countries.
Today, U.S. relations with India and Pakistan are strong. In March 2006, when U.S. President George W. Bush visited South Asia, he remarked that we "are now united by opportunities that can lift our people." In India, he commented that "The United States and India, separated by half the globe, are closer than ever before, and the partnership between our free nations has the power to transform the world."
Positions of World Leaders on India and Pakistan Nuclear Testing
Below are quotes from some of the major political figures and leaders in 1998, garnered from a variety of sources, from several countries that are most involved with the issue of India and Pakistan's recent nuclear tests.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee
The [non proliferation] treaties are discriminatory and hypocritical. Our hope is that those nations that want to continue their nuclear monopoly will accept that the same rules should apply to all. (Boston Globe, May 29, 1998)
Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes
China is India's number-one threat. It is encircling India with missile and naval deployments of suspicious intent. (TIME Magazine, May 25, 1998)
Bal Thackeray, Nationalist Leader from Bombay
We have to prove that we are not eunuchs. (TIME, ibid.)
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
Today we have evened the score with India....I would like to again assure all countries that our nuclear weapons systems are meant only for self-defense.... (New York Times, May 30, 1998)
Chinese official statements
Having signed the nuclear Test Ban treaty in 1995, we have been consistently opposed to nuclear tests. We knew there was a great possibility that Pakistan would follow [India's testing] because of the internal pressure its leaders face. But this is a rather difficult situation for China. We have a friendship with Pakistan, but we still have a strong stance against nuclear proliferation. (TIME, ibid.)
The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan
This [India's and Pakistan's nuclear tests] is a step backward. The world needs fewer nuclear powers, not more of them. But the problem goes beyond India--I'm calling on India and Pakistan to sign the nuclear test-ban treaty before this problem spins out of control. (TIME, ibid.)
Russian President Boris Yeltsin
India is frankly a close friend of ours, and we enjoy very good relations. Their testing of a nuclear weapon was a great surprise. And when my visit to India takes place this year, I will do my utmost to somehow settle this problem. (TIME, ibid.)
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
The recent testing by India and Pakistan bring the world closer to a nuclear confrontation than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. (Boston Globe, May, 1998)
U.S. President Clinton
To try to manifest your greatness by detonating atomic bombs when everybody else is trying to leave the nuclear age behind is just wrong. India and Pakistan must give up their arms race--a self-defeating cycle of escalation. (New York Times, May 13, 1998)
Former head of the International Energy Agency Hans Blix
India is a great civilization, but that is not enough. They do not feel that they were treated as though they were in the same league [as the permanent five nations on the U.N. Security Council]. One could ask if the outside world could have satisfied India’s wish to be considered a great power in a different manner. Are nuclear bombs the only way to assert greatness? (May 1998)