Chain Reaction

After the first shell-shocked moment following news of India's nuclear tests, a heated debate began in Pakistan on whether or not there would or should be a 'retaliation' by the Sharif government. The pressure to test began mounting on Sharif with each passing day – fuelled immeasurably by a belligerent BJP-led government´s threats on Kashmir. The honour of the nation appeared to be at stake, at least as claimed by politicians and the pro-bomb lobby.  Some pro-bomb demonstrations were held by religious parties. "O enemy, which nation have you taken on!" proclaimed one banner at one such demonstration staged by the right-wing religious party Shabab-e-Milli in Lahore soon after India's second set of tests.

The country's major political parties were not far behind in calling for Pakistan's own tests. Sensing the public mood, they urged a "befitting response to India".

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Himal Southasian