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Eqbal Ahmad

Eqbal Ahmad, a freelance writer, lives some of the time in Islamabad and some of the time in Massachusetts.

Pakistani politics

Eqbal Ahmad, 18 June 1998

In London last month Benazir Bhutto called on Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to respond without delay to India’s nuclear tests. ‘It’s an opportunity for Pakistan to detonate nuclear weapons,’ she said, claiming that her own government had known of India’s intentions and had ‘prepared a contingency plan’ for Pakistan to react ‘immediately’. Returning to Pakistan on 20 May, she called for a government of national unity. Two days later she was leading marches demanding instant nuclear tests or Sharif’s resignation. The glass bracelets worn by South Asian women symbolise effeminacy and cowardice in this macho culture. Benazir took hers off and, tossing them into the crowd, thundered: ‘Go tell Nawaz Sharif to put these on.’ Now that his government has tested no fewer than six nuclear devices, he is being hailed as a national hero while she continues to face a hostile world of prosecutors and judges.‘

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