Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated in a book released on Tuesday that India and Pakistan were on the verge of a nuclear war in 2019 but that US intervention stopped the situation from worsening.
“I do not think the world properly knows just how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear conflagration in February 2019,” the likely future presidential contender wrote in “Never Give an Inch,” his memoir of his time as Donald Trump’s top diplomat and earlier CIA chief.
In February 2019, India broke tradition when it launched airstrikes within Pakistani territory after attributing the suicide bombing in Kashmir that killed 41 Indian paramilitary personnel to a Pakistani terrorist organisation.
“He believed the Pakistanis had begun to prepare their nuclear weapons for a strike. India, he informed me, was contemplating its own escalation,” Pompeo wrote.
As per Pompeo, US officials persuaded both Pakistan and India that neither was planning to develop nuclear weapons.
In a reference to the vulnerability of civilian regimes, Pompeo, who said that Pakistan “probably enabled” the Kashmir attack, claimed to have spoken to “the actual leader of Pakistan,” the country’s then-army head General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
At the time, Pompeo openly backed India’s ability to take action. Pompeo praised India in his book and, in contrast to New Delhi officials, made no secret of his intention to form an alliance with the South Asian democracy “to counteract Chinese aggression.”
In 1998, a pivotal year, Pakistan and India both conducted nuclear weapons tests. Then-US President Bill Clinton is credited for calling Kashmir, which is split between the two countries, “the most dangerous place in the world.”
(With inputs from agencies)