Former head of US diplomacy under Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, says in a book published on Tuesday that India and Pakistan came close to a nuclear confrontation in 2019 and the US then averted a rise.
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“I don’t think the world really understands how the rivalry between India and Pakistan could have come so close to erupting in a nuclear clash in February 2019,” writes Mr. Pompeo in his book Never Give an Inch. Never Give an Inch”). Never give in an inch”).
India launched airstrikes on Pakistani territory in February 2019 in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed 41 Indian paramilitaries in Kashmir. Pakistan retaliated by shooting down an Indian plane and arresting the pilot.
Mr Pompeo, who was in Hanoi for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said he was woken up by an urgent phone call from a senior Indian official.
“He thought the Pakistanis had started preparing their nuclear weapons for an attack. India, he informed me, is studying its own response,” writes the man who also ran the CIA under Donald Trump.
“I asked him to do nothing and give us a minute to try and figure it out.”
Mike Pompeo then writes that American diplomats managed to convince both Indians and Pakistanis that neither country was preparing for a nuclear attack.
“No other country could have done what we did that night to avoid a terrible result,” he added.
Mike Pompeo says he spoke to “the real leader of Pakistan” in reference to Pakistan Army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa.
At the time, the head of American diplomacy publicly supported India’s right to self-defense.
India and then Pakistan tested nuclear bombs in 1998, leading then-US President Bill Clinton to say Kashmir was “the most dangerous place on earth.”
Kashmir is a Himalayan region claimed by India and Pakistan. Since the partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947, it has been the scene of several wars for its control.