- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 13, 2002

Indian scientists reveal nuclear, germ tests

NEW DELHI India's military scientists said at midweek they have developed safeguards against nuclear, biological and chemical attacks, but asserted they have not violated any international convention during their experiments.

The specialists, tinkering with nuclear isotopes and substances used in germ warfare, also revealed that the Indian army will train sections of its 1.3 million-strong military in methods of withstanding a nuclear attack.

"We have tested some biological and chemical agents," said R.V. Swamy, chief controller of India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), an umbrella organization for 51 military laboratories.

New Indian minister updated in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka New Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha arrived here Thursday to be updated on the island's efforts to end its long-running ethnic war and discuss better economic ties, officials said.

Mr. Sinha, on his first overseas trip since taking up his post July 1, was making an overnight stop in Colombo after a visit to the Maldives and held talks with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He was to meet with President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday, one of her advisers said.

Earlier Thursday, Nordic truce monitors wrapped up a trip to Sri Lanka's war-torn east aimed at building communication between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Musharraf aims to slow population explosion

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Gen. Pervez Musharraf pledged this week to "vigorously" stem the country's population explosion as he set its first population-control policy.

"Pakistan cannot be pulled out of the poverty trap with 3 million additional births every year," the ruler declared at a function to mark World Population Day.

The new policy aims to bring Pakistan's population-growth rate down to 1.6 percent from the current 2.1 percent by 2012. Pakistan's mostly Muslim population currently is above 145 million.

The country is now the world's sixth-most-populous country after China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil, and ahead of Japan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Russia. Experts say that if the boom is not slowed, Pakistan's population may double in 33 years.

Weekly notes

Pakistan's former foreign minister, Gohar Ayub, became the first high-profile casualty this week of a court verdict upholding a ban on non-university graduates from running for election. He resigned as head of a breakaway faction of the Pakistan Muslim League known as PML-Q after a ruling that those without a degree are disqualified for running in Oct. 10 elections. The head of the United Nations refugee agency in Afghanistan has been assured by warlords in the volatile north that moves will be taken to protect returning refugees. Filippo Grandi held talks last weekend with Uzbek warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and his Tajik rival, Gen. Atta Mohammed, after reports of increasing attacks on ethnic Pashtuns, a minority in the north, and violent skirmishes between the two generals' forces.

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