Pakistan: The Nuclear Countdown

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NEW DELHI: Now that India has flexed five of its nuclear muscles, will Pakistan play the same macho game? Reports abound Thursday morning that the Muslim nation is gearing up for a nuke test as soon as Sunday -- in, of all places, a mine shaft near its Iranian border. Pakistani diplomats are certainly talking the talk: “Indian actions... will not go unanswered,” U.N. ambassador Munir Akram warned a Geneva conference Wednesday. But according to TIME correspondent Tim McGirk, Islamabad itself is a little more subdued. “They will wait to see what sanctions are imposed on India,” he says, “and will test only if they feel sanctions are not tough enough.”

Will the blocking of more than $20 billion in U.S. and World Bank aid -- announced by President Clinton Wednesday -- be vigorous enough for Pakistan? One thing’s for sure: Its effects are already being felt in India, where foreign capital is fleeing the Bombay Stock Exchange by the truckload. “Indians are starting to see that beyond this euphoria, there is the realization that we are going to be isolated,” says McGirk. Islamabad investors, take note.