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31st May 1998

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Pioneer Tamil Editor dies

A prolific writer, Raja Ariaratnam, fondly known as "Ariam" in Tamil literary circles and among readers of his literary works, is a pioneer in modern Tamil journalism. His literary career covers more than 45 years and he wrote articles to newspapers both in Sri Lanka and South India.

He began his literary career by writing articles in English to English newspapers. With his becoming editor of the Jaffna Tamil newspaper "Eelakesari" in 1941, he concentrated on writing articles and books in Tamil.

Born in Chavakachcheri, Jaffna, on May 11th 1916, he lived to a ripe old age of 82 and died in Chennai (Madras) on 28th May, 1998.

After working for several years as editor "Eelakesari" where he spotted and promoted many of today's top Tamil writers, he joined the 'Eelanadu' as editor of its weekly paper. In Jaffna he organised Tamil cultural functions and meetings, in association with well-known Tamil writers like Kalki, Akilan, Keeva Jeganathan, Parathasarathi and Ma. Po. Sivagnanam.

In the 1960's he came to Colombo and joined the Independent Newspapers Group as editor of their Tamil paper "Chintamani" and was there as editor for well over a decade. He continued to have his contacts with South Indian Tamil writers and was Honorary editor of "Kalai Chakkaram" edited by Periasamy and also "Siruvar Ilakkaiam" by Vallikanthan. He served as a member of the South Indian Journalist Federation, Chennai Elanayar Sangam, Kamban Kalakam and he was a life member of P.E.N.

His best short story was "Vellam" which was translated into Russian and published in Russia, "Kalai Kalanjiyam" has published many of his short stories and a series of articles by him about Sri Lanka, was published by Chennai Valarchi Kalagam.


NATO chief condemns Pakistani nuke testing

BRUSSELS, Saturday - NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on Saturday condemned Pakistani nuclear testing and said the Pakistan and India tests posed a serious threat to stability in South Asia.

Pakistan said initially it had completed a further two nuclear tests, bringing its total this week to seven. Its arch rival and neighbour India exploded five nuclear devices earlier this month.

Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad said later that only one test had been carried out.

In a statement from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels, Solana condemned the latest tests, saying: "The nuclear tests of India and Pakistan undermine the global efforts to counter proliferation and pose a grave risk to stability in South Asia."

Solana called on India and Pakistan to halt nuclear and missile testing immediately, to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without conditions and to begin a dialogue in order to reduce tensions in the region.

The European Union's executive body said it reiterated the comments it made after the first Pakistani tests earlier this week.

In that statement, the European Commission said it was deeply disappointed by the tests and seriously concerned by the developments which it said caused a revival of tension and of insecurity in South Asia.

The Commission urged India and Pakistan not to get caught up in an arms race and said they should re-establish dialogue and prepare to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.


U.S. to meet major powers on nuclear tests threat

WASHINGTON, Saturday - The United States protested anew to India and Pakistan on Friday over their nuclear tests and called a meeting of the world's major powers to discuss long-term strategy to stabilise the region.

In a sign that Washington, which imposed sanctions on both countries, was combining penalties with a more constructive response, it also said it was sending its ambassador back to India and would not recall its envoy in Pakistan.

The White House said that in messages delivered in New Delhi and Islamabad the United States told the two countries they faced "significant negative consequences" in their relations with the United States as a result of the tests.

The message to Pakistan also urged them "not to take any additional action," State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters.

U.S. intelligence said on Thursday that the Pakistanis, who said they set off five test explosions on Thursday, were preparing for a second nuclear test at a second desert site. India carried out a second blast two days after the first.

Rubin said plans were underway for a meeting of the foreign ministers of the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States to seek ways of easing the threat of a nuclear buildup in the volatile region.

U.S. officials said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had received agreement in principle from other ministers to attend but they stressed the details had not been nailed down and a time and place was still being worked out.

One U.S. official said the meeting was likely to be in New York, or possibly Geneva, at the end of next week.

In London, a British Foreign Office spokesman said that meeting would be followed by another in London of ministers from the G8 group of countries.

Britain currently holds the presidency of the group, which comprises Britain, Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Rubin said Albright, in Luxembourg for a NATO ministerial meeting, had discussed how the world community should respond to the tests with the ministers of Russia, Britain and France and spoken by telephone twice with China's foreign minister.


IRA wants to end war

By Keith Noyahr in Belfast

Peace in Northern Ireland is so near and yet so far even after 71 per cent of the Northern Ireland electorate voted in favour of the peace agreement at the Referendum last Friday.

Whoever thought there would be an agreement reached by Good Friday this year with so many parties and diametrically opposed interests to be accomodated.

Initially, it was David Trimble who showed courage in backing the agreement when his Ulster Unionist Party was divided on the issue. No one ever thought Mr. Trimble would risk his political future when six of the ten UUP MPs were against it and his own former leader deemed it doom to back the agreement. The political future of two previous UUP leaders ended in the wilderness when they backed similar peace moves that meant some sort of concessions.

Next, Gerry Adams and his party Sinn Fein the political wing of the guerrilla movement the Irish Republican Army supported the pact amidst much doubt.

Still worse, whoever thought the people would vote in favour of the agreement at the referendum for which the protestant dominated UUP dissidents campaigned against it hand in hand with the die-hard protestant dominated Democratic Unionist Party led by the Rev. Ian Paisley.

In my opinion it was the joining of hands of the unionist Trimble and nationalist John Hume, the leader of the Socialist Democratic Liberal Party (SDLP) at a concert days before the referendum.

And of course, British Prime Minister Tony Blair on whom the whole agreement rests, as it were, has given his assurances to all sides. The last minute-injection by US President Bill Clinton who struck a personal note when he appealed to protestants saying that he shared the same faith as them may have also worked.

But today, with polls to elect a power-sharing Northern Ireland assemby on June 25 electioneering and the issue of arms surrender or decommissioning is again trying to wreck the chances of permanent peace.

The likely electoral pact between Trimble's UUP and Hume's SDLP which has rejected a pact with Sinn Fein is a step in the direction against sectarianism that has ruled and wrecked the province of Northern Ireland for many decades.In the last 30 years over 3,000 people have died in the sectarian strife that has left bitter memories and segregated the Protestants and Catholics in East and West Belfast respectively. In some common areas they are separated by huge walls painted by graffiti.

Mr.Trimble hardly a day after the victory called on Gerry Adams to get the IRA decommission. ''We have created the conditions for peace and now it is upto the loyalist paramilitaries to declare the war was over,'' Gerry Adams told the Sunday Times.

One thing is for sure the IRA is committed to ending the war but naturally for those on the other side they want to see it decommission. The agreement requires that those committed to violence cannot take their place in the assembly.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, according to party sources will fly to the United States to raise funds for the campaign that is going to be the most intense one in decades.

The electoral pact between the once opposing unionists and nationalists will be capitalised on by disident UUP members and the chauvinistic DUP which even in defeat is trying to make out that more protestants voted No.

Exit polls at the referendum suggest that 55 per cent protestants voted yes and 45 no.

By June 5 political parties are expected to file their nominations for an election based on proportional representation where electors have a second preference as well. Leaders of SLDP are urging voters to give the second preference to the UUP.

In this election individuals matter perhaps more than at a referendum. All but one no campaigner lost in their respective constituencies. Dr. Paisley who has a great following in his constituency won it convincingly. But the party's block vote has been eroded and there is a likelihood that it may form a broad alliance with other parties and dissident UUPs who campaigned for a no vote in last week's election.

The undecided voters who at the last minute voted 'no' at the referendum are likely to vote for those who campaigned against the agreement since they will not want to be on the losing side again. With hardly a month between the two polls it is likely that a majority who voted 'yes' will vote for those who will try to usher peace and equality in the new power-sharing assembly.


Germany condemns Pakistan, but no sanctions

BONN, Saturday - Germany on Friday again condemned Pakistan's first nuclear tests as the wrong response to India's recent atomic blasts, but stopped short of imposing economic sanctions on either country.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl said nationalist passions were being dangerously stoked by the governments of both countries.

"We must make it clear to these two nations this is not the way forward," Kohl told a news conference after talks with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

Germany has called off aid talks with both countries, but continues to search for other measures short of sanctions to underline its condemnation of the tests.

Government spokesman Otto Hauser said earlier that Bonn would be seeking to mobilise the international community.


Japan recalls Pakistan envoy over N-testing

TOKYO, Saturday - Japan, the biggest aid and trade partner of Pakistan, on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Islamabad to protest against Pakistan's latest nuclear testing. The mayors of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world's only victims of the devastation caused by nuclear weapons at the end of World War Two, added their voices to a chorus of international protests.

"Japan takes this extremely seriously," Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka said in a statement.

He said Pakistan's acting ambassador had also been called in by Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi to hear the protest.Muraoka called on Pakistan to immediately cease its testing and join international efforts to ban nuclear weapons.


"Our hand was forced by reckless present Indian leadership"

Pakistan today successfully conducted five nuclear tests. The results were as expected. There was no release of radio-activity.

I congratulate all Pakistan scientists, engineers and technicians for their dedicated team work and expertise in mastering complex and advanced technologies.

The entire nation takes justifiable pride in the accomplishments of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories and all affiliated Organizations. They have demonstrated Pakistan's ability to deter aggression. Pakistan has been obliged to exercise the nuclear option due to weaponization of India's nuclear programme.

This had led to the collapse of the "existential deterrences" and had radically altered the strategic balance in our region.

Immediately after its nuclear tests, India had brazenly raised the demand that "Islamabad should realize the change in the geo- strategic situation in the region" and threatened that "India will deal firmly and strongly with Pakistan."

Our security, peace and stability of the entire region was thus gravely threatened. As a self-respecting nation we had no choice left to us.

Our hand was forced by the present Indian leadership's reckless actions.

After due deliberation and a careful review of all options we took the decision to restore the strategic balance. The nation would not have expected anything less from its leadership.

For the past three decades Pakistan repeatedly drew attention of the international community in India' s incremental steps on the nuclear and ballistic ladder.

Our warnings remained unheeded.

Despite the continuing deterioration in Pakistan's security environment, we exercised utmost restraint.

We pursued in all earnest the goal of non-proliferation in South Asia.

Our initiatives to keep South Asia free of nuclear and ballistic weapon systems were spurned.

The international response to the Indian nuclear tests did not factor the security situation in our region. While asking us to exercise restraint, powerful voices urged acceptance of the Indian weaponization as a fait-accompli. Pakistan's legitimate security concerns were not addressed, even after the threat of use of nuclear weapons and nuclear blackmail.

We could not have remained complacent about threats to our security. We could not have ignored the magnitude of the threat.

Under no circumstances would the Pakistan nation compromise on matters pertaining to its life and existence.

Our decision to exercise the nuclear option has been taken in the interest of national self-defence. These weapons are to deter aggression, whether nuclear or conventional.

Pakistan will continue to support the goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, especially in the Conference on Disarmament, bearing in mind the new realities.

We are undertaking a re-evaluation of the applicability and relevance of the global non-proliferation regimes to nuclearized South Asia. We are ready to engage in a constructive dialogue with other countries, especially major powers, on ways and means to promoting these goals, in the new circumstances.


World pressure grows on Pakistan after n-tests

SINGAPORE, Saturday - Pakistan on Friday felt the growing heat of world condemnation over its first nuclear tests as Japan joined the United States in imposing economic sanctions and several other nations said they would cut or review aid programmes.

Japan, Pakistan's biggest aid donor and trading partner and the only nation to suffer nuclear attack, said it would impose economic sanctions on Islamabad similar to those slapped on India after its nuclear tests.

"Pakistan's tests defy the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and are unacceptable. We will take appropriate action against Pakistan," Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said.

Japan is the second major power to slap sanctions on Pakistan for defying international pleas to refrain from conducting nuclear tests.

"We have no choice but to impose sanctions," President Clinton said shortly after Pakistan announced it had conducted five nuclear tests on Thursday in response to the same number by arch-rival India earlier this month.

The international community had desperately tried to dissuade Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India in the 50 years the two countries have been independent, from retaliating in kind.

"I deplore the decision," Clinton said, adding Pakistan had lost a "truly priceless opportunity" to receive U.S. economic and security assistance by snubbing Washington.

"And although Pakistan was not the first to test, two wrongs don't make a right," he added.

There were signs on Thursday that Pakistan was getting ready for another possible nuclear test, but a senior Pakistani minister said no further tests were scheduled.

"We have indications that they are working at a second site for a possible additional test. We are monitoring it carefully. They could be in a position to conduct a test in the next couple of days," a U.S. official said.

Pakistan's Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz said, however, his country had no further nuclear tests scheduled and it "can live with" the sanctions.

In an interview with Reuters Television on Friday, Aziz defended the tests as a "compulsory" decision in response to India's tests but said Pakistan had no intention of getting into an arms race.

Aziz said he expected his country to lose about $1.5 billion in international loans it would have otherwise received this year, adding that he assumed spending cuts would have to be made in a budget to be announced in two weeks.

Pakistan declared a state of emergency after Thursday's tests, suspending the fundamental rights of citizens in an apparent move to tackle hardships expected from global sanctions.

Pakistan's economy is vulnerable to such measures because it is a big borrower from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Japan's sanctions include suspension of fresh untied loans excluding humanitarian aid and grass-roots projects, and a freeze on new yen loans, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka said in a written statement.

Japan extended about 60 billion yen ($431 million) in soft loans and about 6 billion yen ($43.1 million) in aid grants to Pakistan in the year to March 31, 1997.

India's underground tests earlier this month provoked sweeping economic sanctions led by the United States, Japan and Canada.

The U.S. sanctions cost New Delhi more than $20 billion, including more than $14 billion in U.S. government loans, credits, credit guarantees and other financial assistance.

Clinton spoke by phone to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and both agreed to work together to prevent a nuclear arms race in South Asia from threatening global stability, the Kremlin said.

Russia also joined former adversaries NATO in condemning Pakistan's nuclear tests and saying they were "deeply concerned and dismayed by the developing regional nuclear arms race". But they stopped short of sanctions.

Asked if "equal deterrence" would pave the way for India and Pakistan to sit down and resolve bitter differences over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, Indian defence minister George Fernandes told Reuters:

"I don't think so. Pakistan has made a declaration on Kashmir, saying any peace talks hinge on Kashmir. To resile from that statement they did not have to explode their ping-pong balls."

Australia expelled a senior Pakistani delegation on Friday and said it would cut military ties and non-humanitarian aid. But it added it was not considering trade sanctions which would hit ordinary people in Pakistan and India the hardest.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also called for an emergency United Nations session on disarmament.

"Pakistan's action is a flagrant defiance of international non-proliferation norms and has serious implications for global and regional security," Downer said in a statement.

"It is sad and deeply disappointing that Pakistan has turned its back on the direct pleas of Australia and others to exercise restraint. Instead Pakistan has decided to join India in isolation from the rest of the international community."

Australian newspapers warned of a dangerous new nuclear arms race, with The Australian 14LABELling the situation "a nightmare, knife-edge stability".

The Sydney Morning Herald said: "Pakistan's 'Islamic' bombs may come to haunt the Western world in more ways than one. The Baluchistan blasts may not match the power or sophistication of India's, but their potential to trigger further proliferation across west Asia, beginning with Iran, is ominous."

China expressed "deep regret" over the tests by Pakistan, its long-time ally. It said it felt uneasy about the nuclear race in South Asia, but earlier blamed India for "brazenly" conducting the initial tests and threatening its neighbours.

Germany said it was calling off talks with Pakistan on economic development.

France, which itself drew international condemnation by testing nuclear weapons in the South Pacific as recently as 1995, called on Pakistan not to conduct more tests and join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Switzerland may cut off development aid to Pakistan to underscore its displeasure with Pakistan's nuclear tests, President Flavio Cotti said.

"As with India, we will (approach) Pakistan with the urgent request to definitely stop these tests," he told Swiss Radio in comments broadcast on Friday.

"And we will have to consider whether and to what extent we will continue our development aid," he added.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said on Friday there was a danger of an arms race between India and Pakistan now that both had conducted nuclear tests, though he added that he did not believe either wanted to go to war.

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