“I don’t think the world knows how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to going nuclear in February 2019,” the likely future presidential candidate wrote in Never Give an Inch, his memoir about the time when was Donald Trump’s first diplomat, and before that he was the head of the CIA, reports BGNES.
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In February 2019, India broke precedent by launching airstrikes on Pakistani soil after it blamed a militant group there for a suicide bombing that killed 41 Indian paramilitary soldiers in the restive Kashmir region. Pakistan shot down an Indian military plane, capturing the pilot. Pompeo, who is in Hanoi for the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said he was awakened by an emergency call from a senior Indian official.
“He believed the Pakistanis had begun preparing their nuclear weapons for a strike. India, he informed me, was considering a response,” Pompeo wrote. “I asked him not to do anything and to give us a minute to sort things out,” says the former secretary of state. Pompeo said US diplomats had convinced both India and Pakistan that neither country was preparing to launch a nuclear strike. “No other nation could have done what we did that night to avoid a terrible outcome,” Pompeo wrote.
He said Pakistan “probably planned” the attack. He claimed to have spoken to the “real leader of Pakistan”, then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, hinting at the weakness of civilian governments.
At the time, Pompeo publicly defended India’s right to act. In his book, the former secretary of state speaks highly of India and, unlike officials in New Delhi, makes no secret of his desire to see the South Asian democracy confront China. India has been “the fulcrum of my diplomacy to counter Chinese aggression,” Pompeo wrote, calling India and the United States “natural allies.”
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India, followed by Pakistan, tested nuclear bombs in 1998, a watershed moment. Then-President Bill Clinton would famously say that Kashmir, divided between the two countries, was “the most dangerous place in the world.”