Did India, Pakistan Come Close to Nuclear War After Balakot Strike? Ex-US Diplomat Pompeo Reveals Inside St – News18

Curated By: Rohit
Last Updated: March 20, 2024, 18:55 IST
New Delhi, India
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended Rising Bharat Summit in New Delhi on Friday.
India and Pakistan were on the brink of a catastrophic nuclear war in February 2019 when Indian Air Force warplanes struck terrorist camps in Balakot, according to former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Speaking at the CNN-News18‘s Rising Bharat Summit in New Delhi, Pompeo on Wednesday revealed the inside story of what unfolded during the hours when tensions were at a peak between the two nuclear-powered neighbours after India’s air strikes deep inside Pakistani territory — an operation that was conducted in retaliation against Pulwama attack that killed 40 Indian security personnel in February 2019.
“The American task was to figure out what was real and what someone was fearing might happen. We began to deploy all the capabilities we had and all the capabilities that our partners had to learn what India believed they knew, and Pakistan believed it knew, and bring that dataset all together,” the former American diplomat said, highlighting the risk and trust deficit between the two countries with a history of conflict.
During the session titled “Never Give an Inch,” Pompeo recalled how both India and Pakistan had a great deal of distrust for each other, especially when Indian fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman had been captured after a dogfight which was carried out less than two weeks after the February 14 terrorist attack. With the help of its allies, Pompeo said that the US administration at the time managed to contain the situation.
Pompeo is an American politician who served in the administration of Donald Trump as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 2017 to 2018. He was the 70th US secretary of state from 2018 to 2021. Earlier, in his book, Pompeo had written that the world doesn’t properly know just how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear conflagration in February 2019.
“The truth is I don’t know precisely the answer either; I just know it was too close. I’ll never forget the night I was in Hanoi, Vietnam when—as if negotiating with the North Koreans on nuclear weapons wasn’t enough-India and Pakistan started threatening each other in connection with a decades-long dispute over the northern border region of Kashmir,” he wrote in his book “Never Give an Inch,” which was released last year.
“After an Islamist terrorist attack in Kashmir-probably enabled in part by Pakistan’s lax counterterror policies-killed forty Indians, India responded with an air strike against terrorists inside Pakistan. The Pakistanis shot down a plane in a subsequent dogfight and kept the Indian pilot prisoner. In Hanoi, I was awakened to speak with my Indian counterpart. He believed the Pakistanis had begun to prepare their nuclear weapons for a strike. India, he informed me, was contemplating its own escalation. I asked him to do nothing and give us a minute to sort things out,” he wrote.
Pompeo believed the Indian government was preparing their nuclear weapons for deployment. “It took us a few hours-and remarkably good work by our teams on the ground in New Delhi and Islamabad-to convince each side that the other was not preparing for nuclear war. No other nation could have done what we did that night to avoid a horrible outcome,” he added.


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