Former US Secretary of State under Donald Trump Mike Pompeo confirmed, in a book he published on Tuesday, that the United States avoided escalation in a possible nuclear confrontation in 2019 between India and Pakistan.
“I don’t think the world fully realizes how close the rivalry between India and Pakistan came to a nuclear showdown in February 2019,” Pompeo wrote in his book Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love.
The two countries were on the brink of war in February 2019, after India launched air strikes on its neighbor, justifying it by claiming that an armed group in Pakistan was behind a suicide bombing that killed 41 of the Indian army’s auxiliary forces in the disputed Kashmir region.
Pompeo said that he was awakened by an emergency phone call from a senior Indian official, while he was in Hanoi to participate in a summit between then-US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The former head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said that the caller “believed that the Pakistanis had begun to prepare their nuclear weapons for a strike. He told me that India was looking at an escalation on its part.”
He added, “I asked him not to do anything and give us a little time to try to work things out.”--
According to Pompeo, US diplomats were later able to convince the two countries that neither of them was preparing a nuclear attack.-
“No other country would have been able to do what we did that night to avoid a terrible outcome,” he added.
Pompeo, who wrote that Pakistan “may have allowed” the Kashmir attack, said he had spoken to the “de facto leader of Pakistan,” then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, referring to the weakness of civilian governments.
During that period, Pompeo publicly defended India’s right to defend itself. In his book he praised India and, unlike officials in New Delhi, made no secret of his desire to ally with the South Asian democracy “to counter China’s aggression”.
India and then Pakistan tested atomic bombs in 1998, prompting then-US President Bill Clinton to say that Kashmir is “the most dangerous place in the world.”