Former US Secretary Pompeo claims India-Pakistan were on verge of nuclear war post 2019 Balakot surgical strike

In his latest book 'Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love' that hit the stores on Tuesday, Pompeo says that the incident took place when he was in Hanoi for the US-North Korea Summit on February 27-28 and his team worked overnight with both New Delhi and Islamabad to avert this crisis.

PTIUpdated: Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 12:46 PM IST
article-image
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo | File Photo

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed that he was awakened to speak to his then Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj who told him that Pakistan was preparing for a nuclear attack in the wake of the Balakot surgical strike in February 2019 and India is preparing its own escalatory response.

Pompeo claimed of Indo-Pak nuclear war in his recent book

In his latest book 'Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love' that hit the stores on Tuesday, Pompeo says that the incident took place when he was in Hanoi for the US-North Korea Summit on February 27-28 and his team worked overnight with both New Delhi and Islamabad to avert this crisis.

"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 truth is, I don't know precisely the answer either; I just know it was too close," Pompeo writes.

India's warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF jawans.

Pompeo spoke about Balakot surgical strike

"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," Pompeo says.

"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," he said.

"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 (sic)," Pompeo writes in his book, which wrongly refers to Swaraj as "he".

"I began to work with Ambassador (then National Security Advisor John) Bolton, who was with me in the tiny secure communications facility in our hotel. I reached the actual leader of Pakistan, (Army chief) General (Qamar Javed) Bajwa, with whom I had engaged many times. I told him what the Indians had told me. He said it wasn't true," Pompeo says.

"As one might expect, he believed the Indians were 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," the 59-year-old top former American diplomat wrote in his book.

There was no immediate comment from the Ministry of External Affairs on Pompeo's claims

"No other nation could have done what we did that night to avoid a horrible outcome. As with all diplomacy, the people working the problem set matter a great deal, at least in the short run. I was fortunate to have great team members in place in India, none more so than Ken Juster, an incredibly capable ambassador. Ken loves India and its people," he said.

"And, most of all, he loves the American people and worked his tail off for us every day. My most senior diplomat, David Hale, had also been the US ambassador to Pakistan and knew that our relationship with India was a priority," Pompeo said.

"General McMaster and Admiral Philip Davidson, the head of what came to be renamed the US Indo-Pacific Command, understood India's importance, too," he said.

"Although often frustrated by the Indians, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer - a brilliant trade negotiator and a Bob Dole staff alumnus, making him a near-Kansan - was a great partner working to deepen economic ties. We all shared the view that America had to make a bold strategic effort to tighten our ties with India and break the mold with new ideas," Pompeo writes in his book.

(If you have a story in and around Mumbai, you have our ears, be a citizen journalist and send us your story here. )

(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here.  To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Want Indian students to have access to employers in Ireland: NCI President

Want Indian students to have access to employers in Ireland: NCI President

How will new rules on post study work visa in UK impact Indian, international students?

How will new rules on post study work visa in UK impact Indian, international students?

PM Modi tops list of most popular world leaders with 78% rating, says survey; check full list here

PM Modi tops list of most popular world leaders with 78% rating, says survey; check full list here

Air India Express flight catches fire in engine, lands back at Abu Dhabi airport safely

Air India Express flight catches fire in engine, lands back at Abu Dhabi airport safely

Working Indian student reveals the truth about building a career in the UK

Working Indian student reveals the truth about building a career in the UK