WMU News

Danger is real in budding nuclear powers of India, Pakistan

May 14, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- When it comes to nuclear politics, India's and Pakistan's history of mutual animosity and the United States' lack of influence in the region makes for a dangerous combination, according to Dr. Lawrence Ziring, the Arnold E. Schneider Professor of Political Science at Western Michigan University and a world renowned expert on Pakistan's political history.

"We have really ignored this region," Ziring says. "The fact that we had a complete lack of intelligence and warning about India's plans to start underground nuclear testing just demonstrates the whole indifference this nation has shown toward the region. We should have been watching. We've known for many years that both countries have been developing nuclear capabilities, but we let our gaze shift to other areas of the world."

Both countries have shown great political instability, he notes, and the region has its own flashpoint -- Kashmir, a region over which the two nations have fought for 50 years. In addition, Ziring says he's been disturbed when traveling in the region to hear people there talk of weapons of mass destruction as something that could be advantageous and used to advance their countries' strategic goals.

"I don't see any real diplomatic solution," Ziring says, noting that the United States cut off all aid to Pakistan in 1990. Since very little has been restored, he says, there is little leverage to use to prevent Pakistan from starting its own round of nuclear testing, as it has threatened. Having each nation know that the other has nuclear capabilities may help deter the use of such weapons, Ziring says. Their intelligence gathering about each other's weapons may be far superior to what U.S. officials have been able to discern.

Ziring specializes in Asian studies and Pakistan as well as U.S. foreign relations and NATO. The most recent of his 17 books, published late in 1997, is "Pakistan in the Twentieth Century: A Political History" (Oxford University Press). Ziring was the first American student to enter the Pakistan Programme at Columbia University and he has been visiting Pakistan regularly since 1957. He is the former president of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies and chairman of the Pakistan Studies Development Committee of the Association of Asian Studies.

Media may contact Ziring at his office at (616) 387-5702 or at his home at (616) 382-0948. For additional information or assistance in contacting Ziring, call Cheryl Roland, Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, at (616) 387-8412.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland; cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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