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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 49, New Delhi, November 21, 2020

Pokhran-II and Since - A Quick Analytical Survey | Sukla Sen

Saturday 21 November 2020, by Sukla Sen


by Sukla Sen *

1. Prefatory
2. The 1998 Blasts: The immediate Backdrop
3. The Explosions
4. Immediate Aftermath
5. Then the Mountains Move
6. the "Geo-strategic Situation" Shifts
7. From Policy Paper to Nuclear Doctrine
8. Enhanced "Security" and "Strategic Autonomy’?
9. Vajpayee’s Lahore Yatra
10. Kargil War
11. A Series of torments
12. Balakot Airstrike: A Game Changer!?
13. Pakistan’s Nuclear Bluff Called?
14. Conclusion
15. Epilogue
16. Notes and Referenences


Over twenty two years back, steered by a Hindu nationalist party — the BJP, by far the largest constituent heading a coalition government of more than a dozen parties[1], India went overtly nuclear with five underground blasts on May 11 and 13.[2], [3]

The head of yet another Hindu nationalist regime, now again in place — far stronger than its previous avatar and, presumably, well on its way to radically restructure the Indian state itself, denuding it of any vestige of substantive democracy and pluralism[4], has tweeted twice on this May 11th to commemorate that day, twenty two years back.
The first tweet tells us, inter alia: We remember the exceptional achievement of our scientists on this day in 1998. It was a landmark moment in India’s history.[5]
The second tweet, immediately following thereafter: The tests in Pokhran in 1998 also showed the difference a strong political leadership can make.[6]

So, to be precise, two claims have been made.
One, the blasts - in May 1998, constituted an exceptional achievement on the part of Indian scientists (and, thereby India - under a preceding Hindu nationalist regime).
Two, the blasts showed what a large difference a strong political leadership can make.

The first one is just a fib.
Nothing too unusual given the source it has come from.[7]
India, as is well known, had conducted its first underground nuclear blast back on May 18 1974.[8]
The yields achieved by the blasts 24 years thence did not indicate any qualitative jump - only quantitative. Nor the claims made as regards one thermonuclear and three sub-kiloton explosions - which would have counted as significant technical upgrade, turned out to be all that credible.[9]

Be that as it may, in the discussion that follows below, the focus would be on the aftereffects of the Pokhran-II blasts — in terms of the events that would actually follow as consequences.

The 1998 Blasts: The Immediate Backdrop

It was on March 19 1998, that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at the head of a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India.[10]
It is, however, in 1996, for the first time, he had the opportunity to be sworn in as the Indian Prime Minister, for the first time, but would fail to win the (necessary) confidence vote, after 13 days, and had to quit.[11]

In any case, a day before his swearing in 1998 - this time, confident of sailing through the ritual of confidence vote, he publicly announced that India will induct nuclear weapons only if necessary. However, there is no specific time frame for induction.[12]
In this context, it bears mentioning that (t)he 1998 BJP campaign was marked by some very unfortunate grandstanding - like Prime Minister candidate Vajpayee’s declaration on 25 February that a BJP government would "take back that part of Kashmir that is under Pakistan’s occupation." An important part of the BJP platform was its declared intention to "exercise the option to induct nuclear weapons" - that is, to openly deploy a nuclear arsenal. This was in keeping with the position that the BJP, its predecessor the Jana Sangh, and Vajpayee himself had held for 35 years that India should become an openly nuclear power to garner the respect on the world stage that India deserved [emphasis added].[13]

On March 20, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman R. Chidambaram called on the newly elected Prime Minister.[13]

Along with Chidamabarm, there was also A P J Abdul Kalam - Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development (DRDO) [14]. While Chidambaram briefed Vajpayee extensively on the nuclear program, and the devices that had been prepared; Kalam presented the status of the missile program. At the conclusion of the meeting Vajpayee told them to be ready to test, but made no commitment to conduct tests. Accordingly, the test preparations began immediately after the meeting even though the tests had not yet been approved.[13]
On April 8, Vajpayee summoned both Chidambaram and Kalam and gave them what the scientific establishment was anxiously awaiting: the go-ahead for the tests.[15]

While the whole operation - Operation Shakti, was kept a closely guarded secret, quite interestingly, on May 3 - just eight days before the first instalment of test explosions, this time, the Defence Minister had made an inflammatory remark as regards China.
He observed that China, not Pakistan, is India’s ’’potential threat No. 1.’’ He also further proclaimed that India should move to declare itself a nuclear weapons state if a review of military policy by India’s new Government supports his view.[16]
That was because while his subordinate Kalam was playing a leading part in the team in command of the test preparations, his immediate boss had just been kept out of the loop.
The defence minister would be told of the impending tests only on May 9 and the three service chiefs and the Foreign Secretary on the following day.[15]

The Explosions

On May 11 1998, Monday, at 03:45 PM, local time, India conducted three underground nuclear test explosion in Pokhran, Rajasthan. [15]
Soon thereafter - at 6 PM, local time, the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee, at his official residence, would announce the tests to a stunned world:
Today at 1545 hrs, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range. The tests were conducted with a fission device, a low yield device and a thermonuclear device. The measured yields are in line with expected values. Measurements have also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. These were contained explosions like the experiment conducted in may 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out these successful tests.[17]
He would refuse to take questions.[18]
This would be followed up with a more detailed statement — quite an exercise in diplomatic sophistry; the proud assertion of India’s just demonstrated nuclear muscle would be intertwined with declaration of continued commitment to global nuclear disarmament, issued by the GoI, later that day itself.[19]
On May 13, further two tests would be conducted and, thereafter, announced through a press release (only).[17]

Here, it bears worth mentioning that the rest of the world — including even the US with its multiple roving eyes in the sky, was taken completely by surprise.[20], [21], [22]

Immediate Aftermath

While there were rapturous celebrations in India, the outside world — with a few notable exceptions including Russia, France and, also, UK, reacted pretty adversely.
The US, however, took the lead — this time, with remarkable alacrity. [23]. [24]

The US President Bill Clinton, on May 13, pronounced, inter alia, as a part of a statement addressing the issue, while, on foreign soil, on a visit to Germany: I think it is important that I make a comment about the nuclear tests by India. I believe they were unjustifiable. They clearly create a dangerous new instability in the region and, as a result, in accordance with the United States law, I have decided to impose economic sanctions against India.
He would, significantly, also add: I mentioned to the Pakistani prime minister, Mr. [Nawaz] Sharif, today, I also urge India’s neighbors not to follow the dangerous path India has taken. It is not necessary to respond to this in kind.[25]
The imposed sanctions would include: termination of U.S. development assistance; termination of U.S. Government sales of defence articles and services; termination of foreign military financing; denial of credit, credit guarantees, or other financial assistance by the U.S. Government; opposition to loans or assistance by international financial institutions; prohibition on U.S. bank loans or credit to Indian and Pakistan; and prohibition on exports of some specific goods and technology.[26]

On May 14, the UN Security Council strongly deplored the tests, via a Presidential statement, that included: The Security Council strongly deplores the three underground nuclear tests that India conducted on 11 May 1998, and the two further tests conducted on 13 May 1998 despite overwhelming international concern and protests. The Council strongly urges India to refrain from any further tests. It is of the view that such testing is contrary to the de facto moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and to global efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. The Council also expresses its concern at the effects of this development on peace and stability in the region.[27]

Here, it may be noted that on the very day of the first instalment of blasts, i.e. on May 11 itself, the then Indian Prime Minister had written a letter to the US President, Bill Clinton, presumably, to assuage his feelings so as to soften, if not altogether eliminate, the anticipated blow of economic sanctions and other punitive measures.
The letter, inter alia, underlined: I have been deeply concerned at the deteriorating security environment, specially the nuclear environment, faced by India for some years past. We have an overt nuclear-weapon State on our borders, a State which committed armed aggression against India in 1962. Although our relations with that country have improved in the last decade or so, an atmosphere of distress persists mainly due to the unresolved border problem. To add to the distress, that country has materially helped another neighbour of ours to become a covert nuclear-weapons State. At the hands of this bitter neighbour, we have suffered three aggressions in the last fifty years. And for the last ten years we have been the victims of unremitting terrorism and militancy sponsored by it in several parts of our country, especially Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir.[28]

In striking contrast with the press statement[19] — which had made only a cryptic, and rather bland, mention of the nuclear environment in India’s neighbourhood, herein at the tail end of the subject missive[28], China and Pakistan, in that order, were emphatically identified — without naming though, as the two (sole) triggers for the blasts.

In 1996, an influential American academic, Samuel P. Huntington, had authored a book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. further elaborating his earlier thesis expounded back in 1992 — as a sort of rejoinder to one of his former student Francis Fukuyama’s book, The End of History and the Last Man. Huntington would visualise an emerging world defined by not an end to but intensification of conflicts between the free world led by the US, on the one hand, and the Communist China on the other. The other major opponent, as per this vision, would be the Islamic world.[29]

As an immediate outcome, the Chinese response would rather abruptly harden.
While after the first three nuclear explosions on May 11, China had limited itself to (rather plain) expression of grave concern, the second instalment of Indian tests, on May 13 — after the Vajpayee letter had become public, drew way sharper reaction.
It characterised India’s action as an outrageous contempt for the common will of the international community and it went on to add that the international community should adopt a common position in strongly demanding India to immediately stop its nuclear development programme.[30]
And this was only to be expected.
The faux pas would, however, be soon acknowledged and Brajesh Mishra — the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, in a press conference on May 21, would try to make amends by categorically declaring that the Indian government wants the best of relations with China and would like the dialogue to continue.[31]
But, the damage was done.

The underlining of China and Pakistan — as the enemies, in the letter, was perhaps based on the anticipation that it would make the US treat (overtly) nuclear India as a potential junior ally in a common fight against the red-yellow (Chinese) and green (Pakistani) perils — as envisioned by Huntington, and so might rather wink at the blasts just carried out, or at least would oppose it just pro forma.
But, that was not to be.
Not only that, the US President would undertake a remarkably long — eight-day (June 25 — July 3), state visit to China by the end of the next month.[32], [33]
To add insult to injury, in defence of the planned trip, after a hiatus of nine long years, Clinton spelt out that China has already helped ease tensions in the South Asian subcontinent following recent nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. He further added: Because of its history with both countries, China must be a part of any ultimate resolution of this matter.[34]
As opposed to that, Clinton would cancel his scheduled November trip to India and Pakistan on the following September 29.[35]
In a way, the US foreign policy, in those days, just made Huntington’s thesis stand on its head.

On May 17, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) issue a joint statement and their heads hold a joint press conference.[36]
Apart from reiterating the points, which were already made, the joint statement lays out the division of works between the two organisations towards India’s nuclear weaponisation.
On May 20, Vajpayee, the Indian Prime Minister, visits the blast site together with a few other civilian and military officials.
Apart from the Prime Minister, among the political functionaries, the entourage included two Union Ministers - Defence Minister and the I&B Minister, and also the Chief Ministers of the home state, Rajasthan, and of Jammu and Kashmir.[37], [38], [39]
Evidently, the inclusion of the J&K Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, in the entourage as the only Chief Minister, excepting the one from the home state, was meant to send out a message.
In fact, two days back, on May 18, the Indian Home Minister, L K Advani, had already made it quite explicit — as explicit as it could have been:
"Islamabad should realize the change in the geo-strategic situation in the region and the world [and] roll back its anti-India policy, especially with regard to Kashmir," Advani said at a news conference (today).[40]
The J&K Chief Minister himself was also not to lag behind in this competitive show of machismo - strikingly unmindful of global reactions:
Abdullah also took a tough stance toward Pakistan. "The time has come to show them our strength," he said.[40]40
The appearance of a jubilant Farooq Abdullah[38] two days later, in the Pokhran jamboree, as a part of the PM’s entourage went to further magnify the blusters of Advani and, also, Abdullah himself.

The US, desperately trying to restrain Pakistan from carrying out its own explosive tests in (or under the cover of) retaliation was none too amused.
On May 19th, James P. Rubin, Spokesperson of the State Department testily remarked that India is foolishly and dangerously increasing tensions with its neighbours.[41]
Forcing India to respond back.[42]

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on his part, would lose no time to make the fullest use of Advani’s threat to project his country as the victim of Indian menace.[43]
Four days thereafter, on May 23rd, in his first press conference since Pokhran-II, he would further elaborate on the theme:
Overt Indian aggression has upset the balance of power in the region and emboldened India to make a naked assertion of hostile intentions toward Pakistan. [44]

Pakistan has to contend with Indian threats which may materialise any moment.[44]
He would duly back it up with:
Threats of sanctions (to be imposed in the event Pakistan carries out nuclear tests) do not rattle us, we have learned to live with these punitive measures.[44]
It is interesting to note that almost in anticipation of Advani’s blusters, Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistan opposition leader and former Prime Minister, in an opinion piece carried by the L A Times had observed:
To Pakistan, which suffered disintegration at the hands of India in 1971, it is a clear warning to desist from its support of the people of Jammu and Kashmir at the insistence of a nuclear India. China, surely, is uneasy too.[45]
Far more remarkably, she would go on to prognosticate:
(T)he West will impose sanctions for some time but ultimately acquiesce to India as a nuclear power. After a decade, the West will reward India, as a nuclear power, with a seat on the U.N. Security Council along with other members of the nuclear club.[45]
It would be pertinent to mention here that in the wake of the blasts and the blusters that would follow thereafter, on May 23, the Home Minister Advani, considered a hardliner vis-a-vis (smooth-talking) Vajpayee, was handed over the charge of the department of Jammu and Kashmir affairs, hitherto held by the Prime Minister.[46]
As, given the immediate circumstances, it can hardly be interpreted as a relative downgrading of Vajpayee to the advantage of (his presumed intra-party rival) Advani; the only plausible explanation is that it was meant to be yet another signal to Pakistan, and rest of the world, on India’s hawkish stand on Kashmir.
And Advani would waste hardly any time to drive that message even harder.[47]

Be that as it may, the Prime Minister Vajpayee — in his first interview to the media since taking over, carried on May 25, would observe:
The decision to carry out these tests was guided by the paramount importance we attach to national security. I have been advocating the cause of India going nuclear for well over four decades. My party, the BJP, and earlier the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, had been raising this demand consistently and forcefully for long. Now that we are in the Government, people expect us to translate our long-standing commitment into action. And we have showed them that we mean business.[48]
What must not escape our attention that Vajpayee, as the justification for the blasts — having huge implications, is citing the fact of his advocacy for the Bomb for well over four decades — that means since early/mid-fifties.
In those days, it is necessary to recall, China was very much a friend and non-nuclear to boot. (China would go nuclear only in 1964.[49]) India had been facing no possible nuclear threat whatever.
So, the advocacy had nothing to do with security (from external aggression) as such.
Nor, therefore, do the blasts carried out now.
It is because of the Hindutva worldview that looks upon the Bomb as a currency of power, as a symbol of status; in complete trashing of the Nehruvian aspirations to be counted as a global force riding on the moral platform of global peace, equity and justice.[50]
The irrelevance of security, is further underlined by the fact that the whole process of the blasts, as has already been noted above, had, reportedly, till almost the very last, excluded the Defence Minister and three service chiefs.
The very next question, put to Vajpayee, was why the blasts without wait(ing) for the National Security Council to be set up so it could decide whether the threat perception demanded it or not.
Vajpayee simply evaded it by opting to dwell on the mandate of the National Security Council.
Vajpayee’s response to the third query as regards the compulsion for the (rushed) tests (within two months of coming to power) is equally instructive:
Important measures that are guided by national security considerations don’t follow immediate compulsions. Rather, they are guided by long-term imperatives based on a sound appraisal of regional and global security realities. It is important for us and the world to know that by conducting the latest tests, India has responded to a stark regional and global reality that has evolved over the past 50 years.
In simpler words — shorn of his signature verbiage, there was no (known) immediate compulsion other than following the essential Hindutva agenda.
That’s from the horse’s mouth.
And the reference to long-term imperatives based on a sound appraisal of regional and global security realities cannot but sound too funny — apart from, of course, being pompous, given that not even a pretense of any such assessment — sound or otherwise, had preceded the blasts, with huge significance.

Apart from other measures, on May 26, the U.S. and Japan forced what the World Bank called "an indefinite delay" on US$ 865 million in loans to India. The action is seen as being as much of a warning to Pakistan should it decide to conduct tests, as a punishment for India.[17]

On May 27, the Indian Prime Minister issued a fairly detailed, suo moto, statement [51], [52] in the lower house of the Indian parliament to put on record the government’s official stand, including elaboration of the rationale and a broad framework of the follow-up steps, and also tabled a policy paper [53] — referred to in the speech.
The implications of these documents[53] would, rather briefly, be touched upon subsequently.

Then the Mountains Move [55]

On May 28, the following day, as the Indian parliament was still busy debating the Prime Minister’s suo moto statement made the previous day, news percolated in that Pakistan has carried out its own blasts.
Somnath Chatterjee, a senior opposition member and the then leader of the CPI(M) — the largest Left group, in the lower house of the parliament[56], became so agitated as to interrupt his speech to address the Prime Minister directly — instead of the Speaker of the House, trashing the set protocol, to charge him: You have started a nuclear arms race in this region.[57]
The above, NYT, report, briefly, refers to the response of the Indian parliament to the news in the following words: The news set off pandemonium in the Indian Parliament[emphasis added], which had been hotly debating India’s recent nuclear tests.
Quite surprisingly so, given the belligerent noises, and strong signals, regularly emanating from across the border.[58], [59], [60], [61]
The Indian parliamentarians, as it appears, had taken the blusters of the regime, in general, and those of the Home Minister Advani, in particular, a bit too seriously.
Later, the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee admitted (before the media while emerging from the Parliament after an emergency meet with senior Cabinet colleagues) that a ’’new situation’’ had been created by Pakistan’s nuclear tests today," but, nevertheless, went on to claim: "tests (Pakistan’s) come as no surprise ...”[62]

’’Today, we have evened the score with India,’’ [that is how Pakistani Prime Minister] Mr. Sharif announced in a solemn television address about three hours after the tests, which were carried out at 3:30 P.M. (local time) Thursday (6:30 A.M. Thursday, Eastern time) at a testing range in the Chagai Hills, a desert region in the remote southwest, close to the borders with Afghanistan and Iran.[57]
Later in the day, Sharif would issue a formal statement in a press conference.[63]

While the Indian tests offered the so very necessary political — domestically and globally, cover[64] for carrying out the explosive tests and thereby emerge as a nuclear weapons power, the commitment had reportedly been made by the then Prime Minister Zulfikar All Bhutto, back in 1972 - post the disastrous war with India in 1971 and, consequent, truncation of Pakistan: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reportedly vowed in 1972 that "even if we have to eat grass we will make nuclear bombs".[65]
Got its first bomb by 1987.[65]

In early 1987, Dr. A Q Khan, in an interview with Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar, published on March 2, claimed that Pakistan already possessed a nuclear bomb.
As it, as is expected, caused a big stir, Dr. Khan would promptly retract.[66]
Moreover: According to a photocopied report of a German foreign ministry memo published in Paris in 1990, a UK government official told a German counterpart in the European nonproliferation working group in 1987 that he was "convinced that Pakistan had `a few small’ nuclear weapons." A Hedrick Smith article in New York Times reported that US government sources believed Pakistan had produced enough HEU for 4-6 bombs.[67]
Dr. A Q Khan himself would, subsequently in 1998 - post-explosions, claim that Pakistan’s capability to manufacture a nuclear bomb had been achieved in 1984, and that he had written to General Zia that Pakistan was ready to carry out a live nuclear test on a week’s notice.[67]

If Pakistan waited for over a decade, despite India carrying out its first explosion back in 1974, the only plausible explanation is that it had been waiting for an opportune moment.
a graphic illustration of the Vajpayee regime’s Hindu nationalism (or Hindutva) driven recklessness, offered that opportunity on a platter.
Otherwise, the global response could have been even sterner.
Still more importantly, it radically raised the readiness of Pakistani public to bear with the adverse economic and other consequences of the blast; in fact, it caused a sort of mass hysteria in favour of an immediate retaliatory blast.
It is pretty remarkable that in stark contrast with the Indian blasts, and shielded by these, the Pakistani blasts were carried out, so to speak, very much in public glare.

Unlike India, which undertook elaborate deceptive measures ahead of its tests, catching even the Central Intelligence Agency off guard, Pakistan made its preparations under close scrutiny from Western intelligence agencies. About 24 hours before the tests, officials in Washington said American spy satellites had detected last-minute steps at the Chagai Hills site, including the pouring of concrete into the shafts prepared for the tests, and said the blasts could come at any time.[57]

The tests came less than seven hours after Mr. Clinton telephoned Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and all but begged him not to detonate a weapon. Administration officials described their half-hour conversation, which ended around midnight, as anguished and impassioned.
The talk, the fourth between the President and the Prime Minister since the first Indian tests on May 11, began with Mr. Clinton offering ’’a changed relationship’’ with Pakistan if Mr. Sharif canceled the nuclear tests, an Administration official said. [68]

It is pertinent to note that these earthshaking developments in the subcontinent in the eventful month of May took place in spite of intense efforts on the part of the Clinton Administration, as have been testified by its senior functionaries.[69]
No less remarkable is the fact that, yet, the news (of the blasts) set off pandemonium in the Indian Parliament; it was taken by surprise.

As noted by the present Indian Prime Minister, in his tweet on this May 11, as referred to above, the Pokhran-II had, in its immediate wake, been deafeningly drummed up as an exceptional achievement5 on the part of Indian scientists.
So, it was real hard to swallow the possibility, on this side of the border, of the wretched Pakistan being able to match that dazzling performance.
In order to drive that point hard, the Pakistani Prime Minister, in his very first televised address, would specifically rub in: Today, we have evened the score with India.[57]

The "Geo-strategic Situation" Shifts

As the huge implications of the Chagai blasts started sinking in, Jaswant Singh — a Vajpayee loyalist and a former Minister in his Cabinet, signalling a (subtle and yet significant) shift of stance would assert that (i)f nuclear deterrence works in the West, why won’t it work in India?[70].
On a broadly similar note, Jasjit Singh, a well-known Indian strategic analyst, perceived to be closely aligned with the establishment, had, already, argued that with the advent of offsetting nuclear capabilities, Deterrence will continue, but on a higher level. I don’t think we are going to see a slide toward instability. I don’t think anybody will allow it to happen.[71]

The claim that nuclearisation of South Asia would lead to greater stability would become a sort of new mantra for the pro-establishment strategic analysts.
Thus, J N Dixit, a senior former diplomat and security expert would argue: India should be relieved Pakistan has gone ahead and tested its nuclear devices and declared itself a nuclear weapons state. Such a move has ensured greater transparency about Pakistan’s capacities and intentions. It also removes the complexes, suspicions, and uncertainties about each other’s nuclear capacities. A certain parity in nuclear weapons and missile capabilities will put in place structured and mutual deterrents. These could persuade the Governments of India and Pakistan to discuss bilateral disputes in a more rational manner[72].
Even more significantly, a book, first published on May 1 2000 and authored by Raj Chengappa, a journalist, understandably, closely aligned with the ruling BJP camp, giving out its rationale for the Pokhran-II blasts would be captioned as (rather absurd sounding): Weapons of Peace: Secret Story of India’s Quest to Be a Nuclear Power. [73] And, accordingly, (i)n Chengappa’s narrative, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee is portrayed as thinking that nuclear testing by India and Pakistan would mean an end to war on the subcontinent.[74]74 That is a quite a remarkably benign portrayal of nuclear weapons - known also as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)!

All these are, it goes without saying, a world apart from Indian Home Minister Advani’s boastful threat (of hot pursuit) to Pakistan in the immediate wake of Pokhran-II blasts and preceding Pakistan’s, fairly prompt and so very defiant, tit-for-tat response.
Evidently, this rather prompt and radical shift was triggered by the impact of the Pakistani nuclear explosions, which the Indian regime in power had, quite visibly, failed to anticipate.
It, by any standard, was a monumental failure.
(It is worth mentioning that the person who had contributed most in developing the Pakistani Bomb — Abdul Qadeer Khan, had also, reportedly, so described the Pakistani Bomb — as weapons of peace.[75]
A remarkable convergence of views!)

Jaswant Singh would soon take over as the External Affairs Minister of India and would continue to spin narratives broadly in the same vein.
In an interview (with the Time magazine), carried on November 25 1999, he would claim: India’s nuclear program is neither country-specific nor threat-specific. It is an answer to a wholly iniquitous new nuclear security paradigm that has come into existence since the end of the cold war.[76]
What a contrast from Vajpayee’s May 11 letter[28]28 to Clinton!
He would further go ahead to lay down the other element of the rationale for the blasts: Our program is aimed at acquiring for India strategic space and strategic autonomy.
And elect to reassure: [I] We remain committed to a wholly defensive posture with minimum credible deterrence. [II] We are for global disarmament and for global elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.

In another, about a year later, interview, carried on September 05 2000, he would be even more specific: We have made it clear that our nuclear weapons are not there to be used in such [i.e. Kashmir] conflicts. We are suffering due to Pakistan’s hostile attitude. But every time we are confronted by aggression, we have reacted with utmost restraint. Rather than being worried because of India, the world should display more understanding for the challenges we face.[77]

One has to keep in mind that both these interviews came after the Kargil War — during which both India and Pakistan had reportedly been readying for nuclear strikes,[78], [79] having been over — just a while back.

As has been argued above, all these signified a rather tectonic shift in the perception of geo-strategic situation from the one that had been envisioned by Advani, in the not-too-distant past.

From Policy Paper to Nuclear Doctrine [54]

Before proceeding further with the examinations of the developments that would follow overt nuclearisation and their implications in terms of stability and expanded strategic autonomy for India, it would be in the fitness of things to briefly summarise how India, and also Pakistan, would elect to formally codify the role and utility of nuclear weapons for them in the days ahead.
Even if the real-life conducts of these states [80] deviate — marginally or even substantially, from the formal positions, it would nevertheless be worth looking into these positions in order to anticipate the likely behaviours of these states and also to evaluate to what extent the declared aims of these weapons were actually realised.
These formal declarations, if nothing else, are messages sent out to the world outside and the adversaries, in particular.
That itself makes them worth serious scrutiny.

The policy paper [53], tabled by the Indian Prime Minister in the parliament on May 27 1998 — just the day before Pakistan would go overtly nuclear emulating India in a defiant move, consisting of 20 — not-too-short, paragraphs, quite interestingly does not at all talk of any such possibility — while, however, underlining its covert capabilities, and its implications.
That is, arguably, rather remarkable given that Vajpayee’s letter[28], just over a fortnight back, to the US President had listed this particular neighbour’s (covert) nuclear programme as the second of the two essential triggers for India going overtly nuclear and the paragraph 8 of the paper itself briefly referring to the covert nuclearisation in the neighbourhood.
It, obviously, offers a strong clue as to the quality of the exercise.

Of the total 20, the first 13 paragraphs argue in detail - delving into its own version of history, why and how India is to be considered a reluctant nuclear weapon power, still deeply committed to peace and non-discriminatory global nuclear disarmament.
These arguments — almost apologetic in tone, by all appearance, were meant for the outside world, to assuage its feelings of outrage.
The domestic environ was, of course, starkly different
The mood in those days would thus be so very graphically captured by litterateur Arundhati Roy: "Explosion of self-esteem", "Road to Resurgence", "A Moment of Pride", these were headlines in the papers in the days following the nuclear tests. "We have proved that we are not eunuchs any more," said Mr Thackeray of the Shiv Sena. (Whoever said we were? True, a good number of us are women, but that, as far as I know, isn’t the same thing.) Reading the papers, it was often hard to tell when people were referring to Viagra (which was competing for second place on the front pages) and when they were talking about the bomb - "We have superior strength and potency." (This was our Minister for Defence after Pakistan completed its tests.)[81]

One, however, stumbles upon an abrupt spike in the pitch at the very opening of the paragraph 14: India is a nuclear weapon state. This is a reality that cannot be denied. It is not a conferment that we seek; nor is it a status for others to grant. It is an endowment to the nation by our scientists and engineers. It is India’s due, the right of one-sixth of human-kind.
This was, understandably, addressed towards both the domestic and global audience, including the aforementioned troublesome neighbour, in particular.
This particular paragraph also talks of India’s readiness to abide by the principle of no-first-use vis-a-vis Pakistan or any other country, on the basis of mutuality. The subsequent paragraphs make a partial return to the apologetic tone and, in the process, is announced a voluntary moratorium on any further explosive tests. (But, not a word on the stalled CTBT.) India’s willingness to take part in the deliberations for formulating and effecting a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) is also indicated.

In all, the policy paper was the precursor of the nuclear doctrine to be formulated by the regime to justify — to provide the rationale for, going overtly nuclear apart from laying down the purpose and terms of use of the nuclear arsenal — both current and future, at its command.

The doctrine proper would come in two instalments.
First, a (detailed) draft document would be put out in August 1999.[82]
After the Cabinet approval, on January 4 2003, (only) the main points of a (somewhat?) revised, and finalised, document would be released in public.[83], [84]

While releasing the draft — drawn up by the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB), the National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra, in his opening remarks would opt, once again, to underline that the overt nuclearisation on the part of India is: a step necessitated by the security environment and our need to ensure for ourselves the element of strategic autonomy in decision making which we will need in the coming years.[82]
It bears repeating, as regards the first, there had been no whatever evaluation of the security environment by any body of experts — in fact, even the Defence Minister had been kept out of the loop almost till the final moment, before rushing to carry out the blasts.
The effects on the second — strategic autonomy, would start unfolding almost immediately thereafter.

The draft, under the section — Objective, makes the following salient point: India shall pursue a doctrine of credible minimum nuclear deterrence. In this policy of "retaliation only", the survivability of our arsenal is critical. This is a dynamic concept related to the strategic environment, technological imperatives and the needs of national security. The actual size components, deployment and employment of nuclear forces will be decided in the light of these factors.[82]
So, while it would be minimum nuclear deterrence, it would also be credible; in order to be credible, it must be able to survive a first-strike and, then, strike back to inflict unacceptable damage on the adversary.
So, the required size of the arsenal would be dynamicrelated to the strategic environment, technological imperatives and the needs of national security; put in simpler words: constantly expanding — horizontally and vertically, and, thereby, open-ended.
Not only that, if there is no conscientious tangible move towards peace, threat perceptions would be mutual, and thus all the players involved will (try to) respond in an essentially similar manner.
So, the consequence is going to be a perilous spiralling nuclear arms race.
That is what the minimum deterrence is about.

The draft, inter alia, makes two other highly salient points.
One: India will not be the first to initiate a nuclear strike, but will respond with punitive retaliation should deterrence fail and will not resort to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States which do not possess nuclear weapons, or are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers.
Two: Indian nuclear forces will be based on a triad of aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets.
Given the great emphasis on survivability, it, clearly, obligates India to move towards developing delivery platforms based on nuclear submarines.
There is, at least, one another point worth special mentioning: Nuclear weapons shall be tightly controlled and released for use [only] at the highest political level.
So, it would be civilian control.

Very much in contrast with the draft, released in August 1999, the finalised doctrine has not yet been publicly shared.
A rather sparse press release — the main text consisting of just 357 words, in January 2003, gave out only some of its (presumably) more critical points.
The relationship of the final/official doctrine with the draft was not disclosed nor was any reference made to the draft.

Nonetheless, two deviations — one, arguably, minor and the other of major significance stood out.
First, while the draft had talked of inflicting unacceptable damage on the enemy in the retaliatory strike, the 2003 press release revised it to a massive damage in addition to being unacceptable.
What, however, is of far greater significance is that the unconditional no-first-use promise made in the draft, now, stood very substantially pruned.
The promise of no-first-use, now, becomes inapplicable in case of (i) even biological or chemical weapon attack — whether by a nuclear weapon or non-weapon state and (ii) not only on Indian territory but also on Indian forces anywhere.
The anywhere becomes highly significant, specifically, in the context of the (soon to come into circulation) cold start doctrine[85], [86], [87] and, even more so, with Pakistan, subsequently focusing on and, on the face of it, successfully developing tactical nuclear weapons — both warheads and delivery platforms[88], [89]; it tends to suggest that any attack on advancing Indian (ground) forces within enemy — i.e. Pakistan’s own, territory with tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) would invite massive (nuclear) retaliation.

This, obviously, has huge implications for Pakistan, which has, till now, opted not to formalise any doctrine[90], [91] — even though India has been openly identified as the sole target [92]92, based on the consideration that ambivalence suits it the best, and is also busy producing the TNW and has added these to its arsenal, in order to tackle any attempted cold start.
Under the circumstances, in case of a launch of any cold start by India, it will have to choose between the following two logical options. One, limit, by being intimidated by the Indian threat, itself to using only conventional weapons in order to counter the advancing Indian troops — potentially much larger in size, apart from being equipped with a superior arsenal. Two, while using the TNW to stop the advancing adversary, within its own territory, and, all at the same time, fire as many of its strategic weapons as possible targeting the Indian mainland before being hit by massive Indian strikes in retaliation to its use of the TNW.
(Unless, of course, it opts to decide that the use of the TNW within its own territory would, in actual practice, not invite massive punitive retaliatory nuclear strike as per the Indian doctrine.)
That is, evidently, not a very reassuring prospect.

Enhanced "Security" and "Strategic Autonomy"?

In order to evaluate the effects of overt nuclearisation on India’s security — narrowly defined in terms of firewalls against external armed threats, and strategic autonomy — understood as Indian state’s freedom of actions — in pursuance of its perceived interest, in relation to the world outside, in particular, in the following a few landmark events would be scanned in some details.

But, before getting into specific episodes, it may be recounted that:
I. The overt nuclearisation had almost instantaneously invited condemnations from all across the globe backed up by punitive economic, trade and diplomatic sanctions by quite a few — spearheaded by the US.[93], [94]. [95], [96], [97], [98]
II. Then, in about a fortnight, under the cover of Indian explosions, Pakistan followed suit.
As a consequence, South Asia would come to be regarded as the most dangerous place in the world and also a likely nuclear flash-point.[99], [100]
That was the global scenario that would emerge for India under the impact of the blasts, in the immediate aftermath, ostensibly meant to enhance India’s security and strategic autonomy.

Vajpayee’s Lahore Yatra

Once the huge dust storm kicked up by the blasts carried out, in quick succession, by the two perpetually feuding neighbours, started settling down, the most significant event that would take place is Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee’s bold peace initiative[101]101 — a bust ride to Lahore in a grand show, on the other side of the border, in order to meet his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, for peace talks. [102]
This, highly popular, and repeated ad infinitum, narrative has, however, major chinks in it, which would be discernible only on a closer scrutiny.
This has particular relevance in evaluation of the enhanced strategic autonomy for India, as well as Pakistan, post the blasts.

But, before going into the hidden chinks, let us recount how the bus ride came about.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee accepted a warmly worded invitation today from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan to ride the first bus to roll from India to Pakistan in half a century and to search for a breakthrough to peace between the hostile nations.
The meeting of the two leaders, probably in a month, would be their third since India and Pakistan conducted underground nuclear tests in May. The idea for the Delhi-Lahore bus service emerged at a meeting in September when they were in New York for a United Nations session. In recent months the leaders have developed a closer rapport in regular telephone conversations, Mr. Sharif and Indian officials said.
Mr. Sharif invited Mr. Vajpayee, whom he described as ’’an extremely decent man,’’ in an interview with Shekhar Gupta, editor in chief of The Indian Express, an English-language daily here, that was published today. By this afternoon the Indian Prime Minister had accepted.
In a transcript of the interview provided by Mr. Gupta, an effusive Mr. Sharif promised that Mr. Vajpayee, arriving on the luxurious air-conditioned bus that India is outfitting, would be received with a hospitality ’’so great that people will not forget it for a long time.’’
’’I will even be happy to go back with him,’’ Mr. Sharif added. ’’We will solve 50 percent of our problems, make 50 percent progress on all issues, on our way.’’
Mr. Vajpayee, who was in Lucknow today, said, ’’I would like to have a bus ride to Pakistan. [103]
Here is an interesting and highly relevant testimony of Shekhar Gupta who had interviewed Sharif:
Vajpayee had spoken with me earlier and had said that if I could get Sharif to invite him in an interview, he would say yes.[104]
So, as per Gupta, he had acted as a sort of messenger from Vajpayee in order to extract an invite from him for Vajpayee to come over, if only via a public interview.
It is interesting to note that, in course another one month and a half, Gupta would give out a different version (halfway in alignment with what had been demanded of him by the Kargil Review Committee, as per his own testimony): I said [to Sharif whom I was interviewing at my initiative], still in that light-hearted exchange in Punjabi: "Why don’t you announce the bus (service between India and Pakistan) in the interview and invite our prime minister to Pakistan on the first bus?"
Nawaz Sharif liked that idea. But he asked: "What if I invited him and he declined? It will look really bad."
I said I will check.
Which I did. Vajpayee too liked the idea. But he said I should see him on my return and not publish it until then.[105]
One only wonders what caused the shift.

Be that as it may, the incontrovertible fact remains that when the interview was carried, Vajpayee, in Lucknow then, almost instantaneously accepted the invite without waiting for any formal invite etc.[103]
That is highly remarkable.
Even more so, if we recall, apart from all the threatening noises emanating in the wake of Pokhran-II, the Prime Minister candidate Vajpayee’s declaration on 25 February (1998) that a BJP government would "take back that part of Kashmir that is under Pakistan’s occupation."[13]
In fact, it would appear even more striking if one looks into the, rather instantaneous and instinctive, hostile reaction that Vajpayee’s move had evoked in (at least a significant section of) his party’s core support base: Acharya Dharmendra of the VHP [Vishwa Hindu Parishad — World Hindu Council] and a member of the Margdarshak Mandal [Guidance Providing Collective], the top decision making body, ridiculed [while addressing a three-day (5-7 Feb.) national conclave of Hindu religious leaders, in Ahmedabad] Prime Minister Vajpayee’s decision to be on the first bus going to Lahore on February 20. The Acharya asked the Prime Minister to declare a war on Pakistan and use the nuclear weapons. If a visit to Pakistan was to be undertaken, the Prime Minister should rather go in a tank instead of a bus [emphasis added], the Acharya added. The Acharya asked for declaration of war against Pakistan and for a final match on the battlefield.[106], [107], [108]

In order to solve the riddle that what made it, then, happen, one would, arguably, have to look into the US role in the subcontinent since the blasts.
The US, as would come to be revealed later, had played a major role, opting to remain, largely, in the background.
As per one account[109], US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, and Vajpayee confidante and then Indian External Affairs Minister had conducted eight rounds of talks between June 1998 and February 1999. 
In fact, the then Indian Prime Minister himself, in A Statement On Bilateral Talks With United States Of America. on 15 December, 1998 had informed the Indian parliament: Since the 11 June, 1998 Washington meet, six rounds of discussions between Shri Jaswant Singh and Mr. Talbott have been held.[110]
And a real-time account is provided by J N Dixit, a former Foreign Secretary on Feb. 11 1999, just on the eve of the bus ride on Feb. 20:
US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and his team concluded the eighth round of bilateral discussions with India and Pakistan between January 29 and February 2. Announcements both from Delhi and Islamabad [emphasis added] at the end of these talks are that the US will continue its dialogue on the sensitive issue of non-proliferation over a period of time.
Both the atmospherics and future prospects of these talks indicate a practical non-confrontationist orientation, which is good for relations between Pakistan and the US, India and the USA bilaterally and also for trilateral interaction on various issues of common concern.
The public pronouncements and speeches of both Deputy Secretary of State Talbott and Assistant Secretary of State Karl F Inderfurth before their South Asian visit gave clear indications that the United States had decided to adopt a stance of continuing negotiations with both India and Pakistan [emphasis added], and that the US will conduct these negotiations taking into account the strategic and technological realities as they have emerged in South Asia since May 1998. [111]

That clearly brings out the intense engagement of the US with the region during that period — as attested by eight rounds of talks between June 11 1998 and Feb. 2 1999.
It would also be specifically highlighted in the memoir [112] of Strobe Talbott, the point man on the US side.

And, at the conclusion of the Lahore summit:
In an unusual move, US President Bill Clinton has [immediately] welcomed the Lahore summit between Prime Ministers A B Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharief, promising all help to the two countries in promoting progress in the region.
’’I commend the two prime minister for demonstrating courage and leadership by coming together and addressing difficult issues that have long divided their countries, ’’ he said in a statement issued in Washington last night....The official said, ’’This demonstrates a clear understanding by two leaders that economic growth and social progress are essential to the future of their countries, as are all countries around the world.
’’South Asia [sic] — and, indeed, the entire world — will benefit if India and Pakistan promptly turn these commitments into concrete progress," Clinton said, adding, ’’We will continue our own efforts to work with India and Pakistan to promote progress in the region.’’

"The State Department official also made it clear that the summit had taken place at the initiative of India and Pakistan and the two prime ministers deserved ’’full credit for the successful meeting.
’’Apparently, he issued the clarification in view of reports in certain sections of the press alleging that the two leaders had agreed to meet in Lahore under US pressure [emphasis added].
However, one of the benchmarks that the US had set up for its non-proliferation dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad envisaged normalisation of relations between the two States [emphasis added]. [113]

Yet another report, at that time, posits:
He said President Clinton wrote to Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Sharief prior to their summit meeting this past weekend ’’to applaud them on their courage of getting together for the summit meeting that they had.’’
Asked if the United States played a role in those discussions, (White House spokesman Joe) Lockhart said the talks were primarily going on between the parties. But deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott ’’has been to the region numerous times and has worked very hard in trying to bring the parties together on a wide variety of issues, including on proliferation, which is an issue that we take quite an important interest in.”[114]

Here is a fairly recent, somewhat contrasting, observation by an Indian commentator:
The ‘bus yatra’ was part of a confidence-building measure or CBM that both Vajpayee and his then Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif had taken at the SAARC Summit in Colombo in 1998 in the aftermath of the nuclear tests that were carried out earlier that year by both neighbours that had sent shockwaves around the world.
As a result, both leaders came under severe pressure from the international community, especially the US which threatened sanctions on both, that both countries have good neighbourly relations [emphasis added]. [115]

It is in the specific context of the (consistent) denial by the Clinton Administration (of its role), especially noteworthy is a testimony by Talbott himself — in the form of a formal address to a Conference on Diplomacy and Preventive Defense — presumably a gathering of fellow professionals, just over a month before the grand Lahore show: “Now, as for Indian and Pakistani public opinion: here we obviously and properly must let the governments in question decide how much they want to expose to public and parliamentary scrutiny the content of their side of the dialogues that they are conducting with us. We have taken pains not to reveal, or respond to, the Indian and Pakistani positions beyond what their spokesmen have chosen to say in public [emphasis added]. [116]

Even more explicit is a testimony, by another key US official, actively engaged with South Asia then, in course of describing how the Kargil War had already been defused and that’s how a bit unguarded: The (US) President had sent Strobe and his team to South Asia a half dozen times in the last year [i.e. 1998] to try to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, ease IndoPakistani tensions and build confidence on both sides [emphasis added]. Pakistan was threatening to undo all of that and plunge the world into its first nuclear exchange [via the Kargil War].[117]

Evidently, any (hint of) claim of ownership of the peace process by the US would have had proved a sure-shot killer of the process and the seasoned diplomats handling that business were only too well aware of that.
It was, in fact, even more so for the Indian side with its traditional principled objection to any third-party mediation. [118]

What, however, is an undeniable fact that the US was intensely engaged with both India and Pakistan, simultaneously, as attested by eight rounds of talks between June 11 1998 and Feb. 2 1999, in pursuance of the objective of nuclear non-proliferation.
It is also simple common sense that the pursuance of that objective would demand, at the very minimum, easing of tensions between the two neighbours.
The fact also remains that Vajpayee’s bus yatra to Lahore signified a complete reversal of his own rhetorical promise to Indian public of taking back the portion of J&K under control of Pakistan [13], just about a year back, let alone his Home Minister’s public threats[40], [41], [47] following Indian blasts.
Given the sequence of events, the proposition that the US intervention, all too evident, facilitated the shift in a big way — to put it rather cautiously, no doubt, makes huge sense.

And, if that be so, that only denotes significant curtailment of strategic autonomy — the ability to act as per one’s wish, rather than its enhancement, at least on the immediate term.
To be fair, India, and also Pakistan, however, successfully stalled — for the good or for the bad, the Clinton Administration’s all-out push to extract any tangible commitments from them on either the CTBT or the FMCT, beyond making some anodyne statements.[119], [120]

But, then, even in 1996, India — a non-nuclear power then, had almost single-handedly — together with Iran, blocked the mandatory consensus in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), in Geneva, on the CTBT. Subsequently, the same year, India, in the UNGA, would vote against the CTBT text, with (only) Bhutan and Libya on its side and 158 countries voting for the text. [121]

Kargil War

The Lahore bus ride ended fairly successfully — at least that is what it would look like at that point of time, and produced a meaningful document — a joint declaration, that sketches out, in some details, a roadmap towards amicable resolution of the ongoing conflicts between India and Pakistan and also averting catastrophic nuclear confrontations in the interim. [122]
It, rather interestingly, did, almost in the very beginning, acknowledge — albeit in a hushed tone, that nuclearisation has transported things to an altogether new level of danger and that makes the subject peace initiative all that necessary.[123]
There was, however, a minor jarring note emanating from the Pakistani side: the three service chiefs (of Pakistan) boycotted the ceremony (at the Wagah border) in honour of the Indian prime minister [124]; and the protests [125], [126] on the streets of Lahore.

What, however, was soon to follow could just not be dreamt of at that moment in an overall ambience of positivity.
But, within less than two months and a half, as it transpires, some member(s) of the local shepherd tribe, on the Indian side of the LoC, reported intrusion from the other side.[127], [128] The intrusion of ununiformed army/paramilitary/jihadis must have had commenced sometime earlier which would eventually come to the notice of the local unit of the Indian Army on May 3 1999.[129]
By then, the intruders had already entrenched themselves in a number of strategic high points.[130], [131]
On May 5th, five of the Indian Army, on a reconnaissance survey to verify the report on intrusion, got killed by the intruders.[132]
From May 15 - 25, 1999, military operations were planned, troops moved to their attack locations, artillery and other equipment were moved in and the necessary equipment was purchased. Indian Army’s offensive named Operation Vijay was launched on May 26, 1999. Indian troops moved towards Pakistani occupied positions with air cover provided by aircraft and helicopters. [131]
May 26 onwards, the Indian Air Force started taking active part in the battle carrying out air strikes against the intruders.[133]
As a consequence, the Pakistan government calls the air strikes very, very serious and put its troops on high alert.[133]
On May 30, via a statement by Shamsad Ahmad, the Pakistan Foreign Secretary, the (inherent) nuclear dimension of the conflict became explicit and attracted global attention.[134]
The next day, the Indian Prime Minister agreed to have high-level talks with rival Pakistan. He also agreed to let Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaz Aziz visit India at a date to be determined.[135]
On June 12, Aziz arrived in India via Beijing, for prior consultations there.[136]
The talks, as widely anticipated, ended, the same day, fruitless.[137]
India, however, deploying its full firepower — unhindered, quite unlike Pakistan, by any compulsion to maintain any deceptive cover, especially the air force, while taking care not to cross the LoC, kept gradually gaining ground, despite losses on account of the initial tactical advantage secured by the other side.[133], [138]

In the course of these developments, the Clinton Administration got extremely worried, given the nuclear dimension of the conflict, lurking in the background.
One of its key functionaries testified: The United States was alarmed from the beginning of the conflict because of its potential for escalation. We could all too easily imagine the two parties beginning to mobilize for war, seeking third party support (Pakistan from China and the Arabs, India from Russia and Israel) and a deadly descent into full scale conflict with a danger of nuclear cataclysm. [117]
Reports have since surfaced that even India was readying for nuclear strikes[139], [140]139, 140, at a short notice, and both the sides were communicating with the US urging to intervene in its favour. [140], [117]
A CIA intelligence report indicating Pakistan’s plan as regards the use of the Bomb, was most disturbing.[78]
Since, at least, late June, the US President Bill Clinton himself would personally be in touch with the two leaders of the warring neighbours — also via telephone.
Eventually, on July 3rd, it is the Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif who, quite interestingly with his family members also in tow, would, in an apparent desperate mood, make a dash to Washington DC, promptly following up on his phone call to the US President on the preceding day.[117], [141]

Vajpayee-led coalition government had already lost confidence of the parliament [142] 142, on account of desertion[143]143, and was preparing for the forthcoming midterm poll in the midst of a nationalist upsurge, triggered by the war.[144],
Under the circumstances and given India’s long-held public stand against any third-party mediation [118], Vajpayee declined Clinton’s invite to come over for a direct tripartite talk.[145]

It was on 4th of July, the (nerve-wracking) meeting between Sharif and Clinton took place[146], with two breaks in between and Clinton talking to Vajpayee, over phone, during the first one.[117]
At the end, a joint statement was issued which recorded the acknowledgement by both the parties of the sanctity of the LoC and, taking off from there, Pakistan’s commitment to taking concrete steps in order to restore it in accord with the Simla Agreement.
The US President urged an immediate cessation of the hostilities once these steps are taken, committed himself to taking a personal interest in encouraging an expeditious resumption and intensification of those bilateral efforts [as had been begun in Lahore in preceding February], once the sanctity of the Line of Control has been fully restored and also reaffirmed his intent to pay an early visit to South Asia.[147], [148]

On July 11, the intruders started withdrawing. [149]
On 13th, India announced suspension of six-week military campaign against the intruders and committed not to attack them as long as they complete their withdrawal by the 16th.[150]
In the event, the withdrawal would be completed actually on July 26th.[149]
In the run-up to the midterm poll[151], July 26 would be declared as the Kargil Vijay Diwas.[152]

The following facts, however, stand out too starkly to be ignored.

I. Kargil War, between India and Pakistan, took place more than 27 years after the last war between the two countries in December 1971.[153]
Thus a lull of nearly three decades was broken.
Moreover, the 1971 war was fought essentially at India’s initiative, arguably, being overwhelmed by the huge influx of refugees from across the eastern border.[154]
It is only back in 1965 that Pakistan had last time launched a war against India.[155], [156]

Thus, after a gap of well over three decades, Pakistan - which had stood badly truncated in the meanwhile, made bold to launch another war, even if undeclared, against India, merely a year after India going nuclear and, thereby, providing the critical stimulus and necessary cover, to Pakistan to promptly emulate.

II. Not only that, the war, though had mercifully remained limited - thanks to the sustained and effective personal intervention of the then US President, was fraught with the very real danger of escalating and, in the process, turn nuclear bringing in unimaginable disaster in its wake.
So much so that the same US President on the very eve of his visit to the region next year would brand it as the most dangerous place in the world.[157]

That is how India’s security and strategic autonomy - the two prime declared goals, got enhanced via nuclearisation.
A graphic illustration.

A Series of Torments

Kargil had in fact inaugurated a series of torments that India would encounter in the coming days as a direct consequence of its (overt) nuclearisation, triggering prompt emulation by its perennially feuding neighbour.

Of the major events, first came a hijack of an Indian airlines passenger plane - flight IC-814 between Kathmandu and New Delhi, on December 24th, the same year; hardly five months since the formal closure of the Kargil War.
To cut a rather long story short, the hijacking would eventually be terminated on Dec. 31st, at the Kandahar airport in Afghanistan, where it had finally landed, via Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai, on December 25th - the birthday[158] of the Indian Prime Minister - in exchange of three terrorists freed from Indian jails and then escorted and handed over to the hijackers by an Indian team headed by none other than the Indian External Affairs Minister himself — in person, to be back to India on the New Year Day.[159], [160]
This episode followed in less than six months since the Kargil victory.

Even in the past, there had been two such major incidents with Indian passenger planes: (i) in 1971, when the JKLF — the leading Kashmiri militant group then, blew up an empty plane, after making the crew and passengers deplane, at the Lahore airport and (ii) in 1985, when Babbar Khalsa, a Sikh terrorist group, would blow up another mid-air, near Irish coast, killing nearly 200 passengers.[161]
For the Lahore incident, JKLF leader Maqbool Butt would be hanged in Delhi, on having been apprehended on the Indian side.[162]
For the 1985 one, one of the suspects would get killed by the Punjab Police and one another be sent to jail by the Canadian authorities.[163]
This time round, the three terrorists released were: Masood Azhar, Mushtaq Zargar and Omar Shaikh.
While on being freed, all the three would resume their earlier activities.[164], Masood Azhar — a quite familiar name on both sides of the border, regrouped his terror organisation, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and launched a series of deadly attacks, including (i) the one on Indian Parliament in December 2001, (ii) the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and (iii) the Pathankot airbase attack in January 2016.[164]
Moreover, for the (nuclear) Indian state, it had been an extremely embarrassing, if not outright humiliating, that it seemed as though India’s Foreign Minister was personally escorting three murderous terrorists.[160]
Never mind the routine rant of the Indian regime against the adversarial neighbour as attested by the External Affairs Minister’s subsequent charge on the floor of the parliament.[165]

The next major event would be a daring and utterly shocking armed attack on the Parliament House, at the very heart of the Indian capital.
First time in history.
It happened on December 13 2001[166], almost exactly three months after the, even (way) more spectacular, 9/11, in New York[167].
Five terrorists breached the massive security cordon in Parliament House building around 1145 am, firing from AK-47 rifles and hurling grenades. Both Houses were adjourned about 40 minutes before the strike, but several Union ministers and hundreds of MPs were still inside.[166]
In the ensuing firing that lasted for over 30 minutes, all five terrorists were killed, along with eight security personnel and a gardener. At least 15 people were injured. The 100 or so ministers and MPs in Parliament at the time were unhurt.[168]
The very next day, the Indian Home Minister did publicly point an accusing finger in the direction of Pakistan.[169]
On the following 18th — five days after the attack, he would issue a statement[170]170 in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament), which would be far more explicit: It is now evident that the terrorist assault on the Parliament House was executed jointly by Pak-based and supported terrorist outfits, namely, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. These two organizations are known to derive their support and patronage from Pak ISI.
He would also opt to add:
Last week’s attack on Parliament is undoubtedly the most audacious, and also the most alarming, act of terrorism in the nearly two-decades-long history of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India. This time the terrorists and their mentors across the border had the temerity to try to wipe out the entire political leadership of India, as represented in our multi-party Parliament. Naturally, it is time for all of us in this august House, and all of us in the country, to ponder why the terrorists and their backers tried to raise the stakes so high, particularly at a time when Pakistan is claiming to be a part of the international coalition against terrorism.
The only answer that satisfactorily addresses this query is that Pakistan — itself a product of the indefensible Two-Nation Theory, itself a theocratic State with an extremely tenuous tradition of democracy — is unable to reconcile itself with the reality of a secular, democratic, self-confident and steadily progressing India, whose standing in the international community is getting inexorably higher with the passage of time.
The logical implication is that in order to feel secure, India has to ensure elimination of its vicious neighbour — at least in the form that it existed then.
Brave words, no doubt.

In any case, this time, the Indian regime was compelled to go well beyond pro forma rants.
The situation that would arise would come to be known also as Twin Peaks crisis — December 2001-January 2002 forming the first peak and May 2002-October 2002 forming the second one.[171]
The first peak consisted of the armed attack on the Indian Parliament House and the largest peacetime military moblisation by India on the LoC — labelled as Operation Parakram (Show of Might) and packaged as an act of coercive diplomacy[172] , that the attack triggered, and matching response by Pakistan.
The second peak, it is quite noteworthy, arose because while the show of might — or exercise of coercive diplomacy, if one so likes, was very much on, yet another daring terrorist attack happened, on May 14 2002, on an army camp, and a bus, in Jammu killing thirty six people, including women and children.[173], [174]
That was, obviously, a big humiliation for the (nuclear) Indian state.
It is not the scale of attack, per se — as even in the preceding (1st) October, the J&K Assembly in Srinagar, the summer capital, had come under another sensational attack killing 39 [175], but the public demonstration of the utter ineffectiveness of India’s threatening posture that sharply spiked the tensions and the probability of a devastating nuclear war.

So, again, (t)he US sensing that war was once again imminent and whose primary focus was on Afghanistan at the time (requiring Pakistan’s assistance to intercept Taliban and Al-Qaeda suspects fleeing across their border and out of concern regarding what the impact of a war between the two, let alone a nuclear exchange, would have on the US-led mission in Afghanistan and its wider geopolitical implications) sent Secretary of State Colin Powell and his Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage to the region in an attempt to mediate an expedient resolution.
... De-escalation of tension during the second peak occurred only on June 7th 2002" and "India officially ceased Operation Parakram on October 16th 2002. Nuclear war had only narrowly been abated.[171]
Thus, (t)he much touted coercive diplomacy of Operation Parakram (eventually) ended in a whimper, with over a thousand soldiers losing their lives.[176]

This, as per one eminent security analyst, was, apparently, a real-life confirmation of the stability-instability paradox (that) postulates that, when nuclear-armed competitors acquire the Bomb, they will seek to avoid a crossing of the nuclear threshold, and hence maintain a safe distance from catastrophe. But at the same time, one or both competitors might view this fearsome threshold as an opportunity as well as an insurance policy, since an adversary’s reluctance to cross this threshold could provide license for mischief-making below it.[177] Evidently, the paradox is very well laden with the possibility of a catastrophe arising out of the all-too-possible abrupt crumbling of the highly unsteady equilibrium that it offers.
What is more germane here is that the Twin Peaks crisis once again demonstrated that nuclearisation, for India, neither enhanced security nor strategic autonomy.
It proved to be a grand flop — nay, highly counterproductive, measured in terms of both the declared goals.

While major and minor terror strikes within Indian territory — mainly in Kashmir, would just continue unabated[178], [179], the next most sensational strike took place on November 26 2008, in Mumbai, the financial capital of India.
This one was even more daring and way more devastating[180] than the December 2001 attack on the Parliament House.
This time, ten terrorists — heavily armed, on a suicide mission, arrived by sea, from Pakistan, at the coastal city Mumbai, on the 26th evening.
Soon thereafter, the mayhem would commence, which could be brought to a close, by the security forces, only on 29th.
The targets included, inter alia, the luxury hotels Oberoi Trident and Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and also one of the busiest railway stations[181] of the country.
In the process, at least 174 people, including 20 security force personnel and 26 foreign nationals, were killed. More than 300 people were injured. Nine of the 10 terrorists were killed, and one was arrested.
This time, however, the Hindu nationalist party was no longer in power and the Congress-led coalition government did not opt to attempt any quixotic sabre rattling; it rather went for building up diplomatic pressure to squeeze the Pakistani regime.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown toured both India and Pakistan following the attacks in Mumbai. In a flurry of diplomatic activity that was essentially viewed as an exercise in “conflict prevention,” U.S. officials and others urged Pakistan’s civilian government to take action against those suspected of involvement in the attacks. There were concerns that tensions might escalate between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. India, however, refrained from amassing troops at the Pakistan border as it had following the December 13, 2001, attack on India’s parliament, which had also been carried out by Pakistan-based militants. Instead, India focused on building international public support through various diplomatic channels and through the media. India made a plea to the UN Security Council for sanctions against Jamaat-ud-Dawa, contending that the group was a front organization for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which had been banned by Pakistan in 2002. Acceding to India’s request, the Security Council imposed sanctions on Jamaat-ud-Dawa on December 11, 2008, and formally declared the group a terrorist organization [179]
This, yet again, demonstrated the vacuity of the claim that nuclearisation for India would enhance its security and strategic autonomy.

Balakot Airstrikes: A Game Changer!?

Life in the subcontinent would soon be back to normal — with minor and some not-so-minor, terrorist attacks, particularly in Kashmir, continuing.
There would be at least two significant overtures towards peace, between the two neighbours, as well.[182], [183]
Neither did, however, raise popular expectations as much as had the Agra Summit, in July 2001.[184], [185]
In the meanwhile, after a ten-year hiatus, the Hindu nationalist BJP was, again, in 2014, with Narendra Modi as its mascot, back to power, leading a coalition, but, numerically much stronger than ever before.
Modi, right from the beginning, was intent on underlining his Hindu nationalist identity186, 187, 188 and project a macho image[189], [190] of his.
But, on the ground, in Kashmir, the graph of terrorist attacks showed a significant upward rise.[191], [192]
Moreover, on September 18 2016, early morning, there was a daring attack on an army camp, in the garrison town of Uri, in which 18 soldiers were killed. All the four militants involved would be gunned down hours later.[193], [194].
In response — largely propelled by popular expectations[195] stoked, especially, by the projected macho image of the Prime Minister, on September 29, the Indian Army would claim[196] to have carried out surgical strikes, within the territory controlled by Pakistan, and destroyed seven launch pads for terrorist infiltration into India. The claim, however, would be rejected outright by Pakistan and the UN observers on the LoC also sort of endorsed the latter position.[197], [198]
Here, it may be mentioned that earlier that year, in January, there had been a suicide attack on an airbase, in Pathankot, which would also cause a good deal of stir, but nothing beyond diplomatic actions.[199]

India, in early 2019, was due for its parliamentary poll which would be announced on March 10.[200], [201]
The poll campaign by the ruling party — rather the Prime Minister had, however, already started no later than Feb. 2.[202]
In the midst of hotting up political climate, as is the norm with a democratic poll, came a sensational suicide blast attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama in Kashmir on February 14, in which at least 44 CRPF personnel got killed.[203], [204]
This was, obviously, one of the most sensational attacks ever — in terms of number of casualties, and the looming parliamentary poll magnified its impact many times over.[205], [206], [207]
A retaliatory attack, beyond diplomatic offensives, became almost inevitable — even more so, as a Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, in its immediate wake.[208], [209]
Eventually, on February 26, India said its air force conducted strikes against a Jaish-e-Mohammed training base at Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and that the attack killed a “very large number” of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders. Pakistan denied there were any casualties from that attack and said the strikes missed any targets.[210]

While there were widely conflicting claims from the two feuding sides, independent analysts — based on ground reports and, then, analysis of satellite images, however, put it virtually beyond the pale of any reasonable doubt that the missiles fired had missed targets and failed to cause any meaningful damage.[211], [212], [213], [214], [215] Subsequently, Pakistan would, organise a spot visit by foreign journalists, presumably after washing clean any tell-tale evidence of the targeted buildings having been used as terrorist training centres.[216]
The missile strikes, for the Indian audience, served as a definitive proof of Modi’s machismo, in the run-up to the general election; while that no meaningful damage was caused to the Pakistani side should have had toned down its urge to retaliate.
Yet, the next morning, Pakistan Air Force carried out an air raid on the Indian side of Kashmir.
In the ensuing aerial dogfight, amid conflicting claims, an Indian fighter jet was found to be downed on the Pakistani side and its pilot captured. India, immediately, demanded the release of its pilot.[217]
The two neighbours transgressed each other’s air space[218], for the first time since 1971[219], and this was also the first instance of any nuclear power carrying out an air raid against another.[220]
Already heightened tensions almost abruptly spiked.

As it appears, like in earlier cases, prompt intervention by the US resulted in averting of a nuclear catastrophe. This time, however, other countries were also involved.
One detailed, ostensibly a blow-by-blow, account claims: The sparring between India and Pakistan last month [i.e. Feb. 2019] threatened to spiral out of control and only interventions by U.S. officials, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, headed off a bigger conflict, five sources familiar with the events said.
U.S. efforts were focused on securing the quick release of the Indian pilot by Pakistan and winning an assurance from India it would pull back from the threat to fire rockets, the Western diplomat in New Delhi and officials in Washington said.
The report concluded: The fact that some of the most basic facts, intentions and attempted strategic signals of this crisis are still shrouded in mystery ... should be a sobering reminder that neither country is in a position to easily control a crisis once it begins [emphasis added]. [221]
There are also other corroborative testimonies[222], [223] and tell-tale evidences.

The utterances of Donald Trump himself, the incumbent US President this time, being far more garrulous than his predecessors in the recent past, are particularly of interest.
On Feb. 22, Trump during a joint press briefing together with the visiting Chinese Vice Premier, while responding to questions from the media, commented thus:
(I)t’s a terrible thing going on right now between Pakistan and India. It’s a very, very bad situation, and it’s a very dangerous situation between the two countries. And we would like to see it stop. A lot of people were just killed and we want to see it stopped. We’re very much involved in that.
He would further add: India is looking at something very strong. And, I mean, India just lost almost 50 people and — with an attack, so I can understand that also. But we’re talking and a lot of people are talking, but it is a very, very delicate balance going on right now. There’s a lot of problems between India and Pakistan because of what just happened in Kashmir. [224]

If on Feb. 22, Trump had said India is looking at something very strong and I can understand that, on Feb. 26, India would launch the missile attacks.
On Feb. 27, Pakistan, in a limited way, retaliated and one Indian pilot was captured, which would radically spike the danger of an escalating confrontation spiralling out of hand.
On Feb. 28th morning, it’s quite remarkable, he virtually opened his address, in Hanoi — on the way back from North Korea, to the media with: We have, I think, reasonably attractive news from Pakistan and India. They’ve been going at it, and we’ve been involved in trying to have them stop. And we have some reasonably decent news. I think, hopefully, that’s going to be coming to an end. It’s been going on for a long time — decades and decades. There’s a lot of dislike, unfortunately. So we’ve been in the middle, trying to help them both out and see if we can get some organization and some peace. And I think, probably, that’s going to be happening.[225]
Later, that day, Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in an address to both houses of Parliament, would announce the decision to release the captured Indian pilot, the very next day.[226]
The following day, the captured Indian pilot was released, as promised, and was handed over to India at Wagah border.[227]
Thus the crisis got diffused.
A potential catastrophe was averted.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Bluff Called?

What, however, is utterly unsettling is the fact that instead of acknowledging the cataclysmic potential of the escalating conflict, quite a few of the very senior apologists of the Indian regime drew just the opposite conclusion - at least, so it appears.

Former Foreign Secretary, Kanwal Sibal, put it pretty cogently, in an interview carried on the Following May 4:
We have [so far] been reluctant to cross the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir by air as we saw during the Kargil War when our Air Force was under strict orders not to do so. On land, exchange of fire and limited incursions across the LoC have been going on for a long time. The 2016 surgical strikes in response to the Uri attack was the official announcement of a new policy decision. The Balakot air strike raises the level of our riposte much higher, especially as we have gone beyond Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and have hit Pakistan proper. We have opened up a lot of strategic space for ourselves because we have signalled our willingness to attack anywhere in Pakistan against a terrorist target. We have also overcome our concern that striking at Pakistan conventionally could escalate matters to the nuclear level. With Balakot, we have called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff [emphasis added].[228]

And Kanwal Sibal is far from alone.[229], [230]
In fact, no less than the now incumbent Indian Army Chief, almost immediately after taking over on Dec. 31st 2019[231]231, would, on January 3rd, in course of his interaction with the media, underlined the very same point.
If you see historically, nuclear weapons have been a good deterrent and that is where their role ends. We have seen on two or three occasions, we can still carry out the kind of operations that we have carried out without any nuclear portion coming into play," he said speaking to mediapersons in South Block.[232]
In fact, the very day he had taken over, he was even more explicit: “If Pakistan does not stop its policy of state-sponsored terrorism, we reserve the right to preemptively strike at the sources of terror threat and this intent has adequately been demonstrated in our response during surgical strikes and Balakot operation,” the Army Chief said.
“A new normal in our response mechanism has been emphatically underlined [emphasis added],” he added..[233]
In other words: Henceforth, we would keep repeating Balakot, at our option.

In fact, all these appear even more disturbing when read together with the public boasts of the Indian Prime Minister himself:
On the last day of election campaigning in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said had Pakistan not returned Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman then it would have been a ‘qatal ki raat‘ (night of slaughter).
“On the second day, America’s senior official said India would do something big. That Modi was ready with 12 missiles. It would have been a serious situation so it was good that Pakistan announced to return the Indian pilot else it would have been ‘qatal ki raat‘,” PM Modi said while addressing a rally in Patan [on April 21st 2019].[234]

There are, evidently, serious problems with this position.
One, while Pakistan has no formalised nuclear doctrine and has no no first use policy, even then, its essential ingredients had been laid out on its behalf thus:
Nuclear weapons are aimed solely at India. In case that deterrence fails, they will be used if
India attacks Pakistan and conquers a large part of its territory (space threshold)
India destroys a large part either of its land or air forces (military threshold)
India proceeds to the economic strangling of Pakistan (economic strangling)
India pushes Pakistan into political destabilization or creates a large scale internal subversion in Pakistan (domestic destabilization)[92]
There was, essentially, very much a similar assertion by the Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf as well.[235]

So, it can very well be seen that Balakot missile strikes, which, in all probability, had caused no tangible damage, cannot, even remotely, be counted as an adequate trigger for a nuclear response from Pakistan, in terms of its (undeclared) nuclear doctrine.
But, there is a big catch here; such forays into the enemy territory are almost bound to evoke a response — even though sub-nuclear, as had indeed been the case here.
And that would almost certainly set off a chain of reactions and counter-reactions that could, virtually instantly, very well spin out of control.
In fact, if the Indian Prime Minister would talk of a night of slaughter, Pakistan would promise a retaliation three times more devastating.
That’s too frightening.
As it appears, only a prompt intervention by powerful outside parties helped avert a catastrophic disaster.[221], [222], [223]

That is precisely why the established nuclear powers had drawn an unspoken redline — not penetrating deep into enemy territory, in order to avoid such a predicament.
The real danger here is that if the Indian side really believes that it can try to do a Balakot at will, luck may just run out.[236]


As can very well be seen, from what has been laid out above, since Pokhran-II, that overt nuclearisation of India did immediately trigger emulation by Pakistan both by (i) giving rise to compulsion and (ii) also offering the necessary cover for that action.
Pakistan had to wait for more than a decade — most likely since 1987 [65]. [66], [67], [237], for that opportunity.

As a consequence, India appears to have lost its edge in terms of superior arsenal of conventional arms and much larger military force.
It has been amply demonstrated by the Kargil War, hijack of Indian Airlines plane — IC-814, leading to release and hand-over of three dreaded militants from Indian jails, attack on the Parliament House in Delhi — while in session, attack on Mumbai and scores of other terrorist attacks of lesser dimensions.[238]
The stalemate was, just last year, attempted to be broken with an airstrike in Balakot — which, incidentally, appears to have had missed the target, threatening, regardless, to rapidly snowball into a full-scale catastrophic conflict, somehow averted via prompt and forceful interventions by external forces.
So, the ill-advised nuclearization [239] neither enhanced India’s security — defined in terms of the ability to eliminate/minimise external military threats, nor strategic autonomy — the ability to operate more freely on the international stage.
The, indisputable, diplomatic edge over Pakistan flows essentially out of (i) the size of Indian population, economy, military etc. — relative to Pakistan, together with the democratic political setup, (ii) India’s much better economic performance, till almost recently [240], [241], [242] and (iii) the lasting impact of 9/11 — and such other terrorist acts of lesser order, on global politics.
Despite, not because of, nuclearisation.

On the other hand, as had already been deliberated above and is graphically underlined by Balakot — only last year, the subcontinent has now very much turned into a nuclear hotspot, ready to go up in flames, with horrendous consequences, at a very short notice.
With both the perennially feuding neighbours, seized with a strange death wish, dead set on diversifying and upgrading their respective stockpile of nuclear warheads and the delivery vehicles/platforms[243], [244], instead of engaging in meaningful dialogues towards peace and amity.
In fact, India demonstrating its capability to shoot down a satellite, in space, is only going to further speed up the race to self-destruction.[245], [246], [247], [248]
It, in fact, tends to draw China, as well, into this quagmire far more actively.


On this October 27th, India has signed a military pact — the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), with the US.
With BECA in place, both countries will now share high-end military technology, geospatial maps and classified satellite data between their militaries.[249]249
Another Indian media house, decidedly more candid, reports: India and the US on Tuesday [i.e. October 27th] signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), a military pact reserved for close Pentagon allies, and resolved to undertake joint developmental and infra projects abroad to beat back Chinese aggression in the security and economic domains.[250]
The very same point, though in a more restrained fashion, is underlined also by a leading one from Pakistan: a landmark defence agreement that will allow sharing of high-end military technology, classified satellite data and critical information between the two countries widely believed to have China in its cross-hair.[251]

The essential point is that India, which had traditionally followed, broadly, an independent foreign policy, marked by its refusal to get into any formal and enduring alliance with any of the big powers — and thereby endeavoured to exercise its strategic autonomy[252]252, has now opted to too closely align with the US, presumably to tackle the, perceived, growing Chinese challenge[253], [254], [255].
The US Secretary of State, while in Delhi on the occasion of signing, is quoted by a senior Indian journalist, apparently with some sense of pride(!), to have publicly consoled India, in an interview with him: India shouldn’t feel alone, or left to fend for itself.[256]
Nothing underlines better the starkly asymmetric nature of this partnership than Pompeo openly acting as the Big Brother — assuring protection to the (bullied?) little one, while on Indian soil.
A graphic demonstration of phenomenal erosion of India’s stature and strategic autonomy.

In what leading campaigners are describing as “a new chapter for nuclear disarmament”, the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will now come into force on 22 January, after Honduras became the 50th Member State to ratify on Saturday [i.e. October 24th 2020].

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement commended all the countries whose ratification of the accord, approved by 122 nations at the General Assembly in 2017, who have helped bring the ban on weapons this far, singling out the work of civil society groups.
Adopted on 7 July 2017 at a UN conference in New York, the Treaty represented the first multilateral legally binding instrument for nuclear disarmament in two decades. [257]

The Treaty, arguably, blows away the legal fig leaf for the nuclear weapons — already considered profoundly immoral, as the direct and immediate outcome of the huge grotesque massacres in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 [258], [259].
The Treaty, inter alia, expressly provides: any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, in particular the principles and rules of international humanitarian law.[260]
Though the Treaty will be binding only on the countries ratifying it — already or in future, given the moral pressures it is bound to exert on those sitting out — the non-nuclear countries, in particular, and that it may, thereby, very well trigger a new global wave of movements focused on nuclear disarmament and peace, the US — presumably spearheading the recognised NWSs, launched a strident campaign to nullify the Treaty by pressurising the ratifying countries to withdraw.[261]
That, arguably, best underlines the tremendous potential of the Treaty.[262]
And that’s, conceivably, the only way how South Asia, along with the rest of world, can be liberated from the horrifying prospect of being incinerated by a cataclysmic nuclear war.

November 11 2020

(* The author is a founding member of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India)

Notes and References

1. Ref.: ‘12th Lok Sabha Elections’ at

3. Ref.: ‘20 years of Pokhran II nuclear test: This is how India became a mighty nuclear power’, dtd. May 11 2018, at <> .
4. Ref.: ’2019 Parliamentary Poll: Outcome: Drivers: Consequences: An Exploration’, dtd. June 15 2019, by Sukla Sen, at <> .
5. Ref.:

6. Ref.: < >.
7. Ref.: ’Modi Lies’ at <> .
8. Ref.: ’Pokhran-I: India’s First Nuclear Bomb’, dtd. March 11 2014, by Mark Donohue at <> .
9. Ref.: ’What Are the Real Yields of India’s Test?’, dtd. November 8 2001, by Carey Sublette at <> and ’Pokhran-II thermonuclear test, a failure’, dtd. Dec. 17 2016, by K Santhanam and Ashok Parthasarathi at <> .
10. Ref.: ’Atal Bihari Vajpayee swearing-in ceremony in 1998 - 10th Prime Minister of India’ at

11. Ref.: ’INDIAN GOVERNMENT FALLS AFTER 13 DAYS IN POWER’, dtd. May 29 1996, by Kenneth J. Cooper at <> .
12. Ref.: ’India Nuclear Chronology’ at <> .
13. Ref. ’India’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Operation Shakti: 1998’, dtd. March 13 2001, at: <> .
14. Ref.: ’Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’ at <> .
15. Ref.: ’Risking international opprobrium and economic sanctions, India goes ahead with nuclear tests’, dtd. May 25 1998, by Manoj Joshi at <> .
16. Ref.: ’India’s New Defense Chief Sees Chinese Military Threat’, dtd. May 5 1998, by John F. Burns at <> .
17. Ref.: ’India’s Nuclear Tests: News reports and ’eyewitness’ accounts’ at <> .
18. Ref.: ’India conducts underground nuclear tests: Pakistan strongly condemns the test’, dtd. May 11 1998, at <> .
19. Ref.: ’Indian government statement on nuclear tests’, dtd. May 11 1998, at <> .
Interestingly, a slightly altered version is available at <> .
20. Phyllis Oakley, the foreign service officer in charge of the department’s bureau of intelligence and research, was returning to her own office from the senior staff meeting when her deputy intercepted her in the corridor with the news that India had set off a nuclear device several hours earlier. Phyllis was stunned. How had we learned? she asked. From CNN, she was told. She winced, then rushed back to my office to make sure I had gotten the word. I hadn’t.
(Ref.: ’Engaging India’ by Strobe Talbott, dtd. Nov. 28 2004, at <> .)
21. Ref.: ’CIA searching for answers behind its India-Nuclear failure’, dtd. May16 1998, at <> .
22. Ref.: ’NUCLEAR ANXIETY: THE BLUNDERS; U.S. Blundered On Intelligence, Officials Admit’ by Tim Weiner, dtd. May 13 1998, at <> .
23. Among the P 5, besides the US, China and UK were too critical of India’s tests and Russia was not harsh in its reaction. One of the P 5, France, though concerned about impact of India’s nuclear tests on the non-proliferation efforts of the international community, recognised India’s right for such exercise. While some countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Sweden were for imposing sanctions on India, either for the sake of mere punishment or for achieving nonproliferation demands, Russia, UK and France were firmly against imposing sanctions for any purpose, as they believed that sanctions were counter-productive since they hurt the poorest people and preferred diplomatic solution for sanctions.
(Ref.: ’Politics of US sanctions policy : a study of Pokhran-I and Pokhran- II nuclear tests’, research paper, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2004, Chapter-IV, p. P. 122-3, by N Kannan at <> .)
Also ref.: ’Domestic politics and the nuclear issue in India (1974-1996)’, research paper, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1999, Chapter-5, p. 156 - 163, by Debdutt Panda at <> .
24. Moscow made it clear from the very outset—in contrast to the US policy—that it is opposed to imposing sanctions against India. Sanctions may only prove to be counter-productive. Moscow would rely on diplomacy to try to bring about a change in India’s nuclear policy. It was announced that Russia’s cooperation with India in the civilian nuclear sector would continue. President Yeltsin’s scheduled visit to India later this year also stands.
It soon became clear that the nuclear tests would not come in the way of multifarious Indo-Russian cooperation. On May 14—just a day after India tested the nuclear device the second time—the conference of Joint Indo-Russian Council that oversees technical and scientific collaboration between the two countries opened in Moscow in an atmosphere of goodwill and friendship. The Russian Co-Chairman of the Council, Academician Marchuk, called for an intensification of high-level contacts and cooperation. On May 15, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Vladimir Kuroyedov was reported to have said that the handing over the warship Admiral Gorshkov to India was very much on the cards. Kuroyedov also confirmed that Russian warships would take part in the joint exercises with the Indian Navy in the coming autumn. He added, "We regard India as a great friendly partner in the vast Indian Ocean." It was also reported that Russia had offered more nuclear submarines to India. It was made known on May 19 that Russia’s Atomic Energy Minister, Yevgeny Adamov, would be visiting India shortly to sign a supplement to the agreement of 1988 on the construction of an atomic power plant in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. Thus, Moscow gave a clear signal that despite differences on the nuclear issue it would be business as usual with India. Moscow also made it clear that India’s nuclear-strategic programme was purely indigenous and there was no question of transfer of Russian military nuclear technology to India.
(Ref.: ’Russia’s Post-Pokhran Dilemma’ by Jyotsna Bakshi, Research Fellow, IDSA, (dtd. August 1998), at <> .
Thus, the difference between the US and Russian responses to Pokhran-II could hardly have been any starker.
26. Ref.: ’India-Pakistan Nuclear Tests and U.S. Response’, dtd. Nov. 24 1998, at <> .
27. Ref.: ’SECURITY COUNCIL DEPLORES NUCLEAR TESTS CONDUCTED BY INDIA: Press Release: SC/6517’, dtd. May 14 1998, at <> .
28. Ref.: ’NUCLEAR ANXIETY; Indian’s Letter to Clinton On the Nuclear Testing’, dtd. May 13 1998, at <> .
As per, at least, one report, Vajpayee had written to 177 world leaders, assigned 10 MEA joint secretaries to ensure these letters were delivered within 24 hours of the tests. In addition, he was personally in touch with several key world leaders to explain to them India’s stand.
(Ref.: ’Post-Pokhran nuclear tests, India seen as a nation pursuing its interests aggressively’ by Manoj Joshi and Raj Chengappa, dtd. June 1 1998, at <> .)
29. Ref.: ’Clash of Civilizations’ at <> .
30. Ref.: ’China and the Indian bomb’ by C Raja Mohan, Hindu, dtd. May 18 1998, p. 13, available at!topic/soc.culture.bengali/RpX1Z_vN6ME%5B26-50%5D, posted by on 17 05 1998.
31. The Government soon realised that its calculations on the Chinese reaction were going awry. Emergency lights started flashing. Hectic consultations ensued on how to ease the situation. The Chinese side was reportedly firm. As one of their officials put it, "Your side caused the damage, so it is up to you to make up. We would not like to hear further remarks about the threat of China and we need a reiteration that you are satisfied with our 10-year relationship and are ready to further it." The Indians then moved swiftly. Brajesh Mishra, the tough-talking principal secretary to the prime minister and who once headed the mission in Beijing, called a press conference on May 21, where he categorically stated that the Government "wants the best of relations with China and would like the dialogue to continue".
(Ref.: ’HAWKISH INDIA’ by Manoj Joshi and Raj Chengappa, dtd. June 1 1998, at <> .)
32. Ref.: ‘UPI Spotlight: Clinton arrives in China’, dtd. June 25 1998, at <> .
33. Ref.: ’Presidential News Conference’, dtd. July 3 1998, at <> .
34. Ref.: ’Clinton Defends China Trip, Engagement Policy’, dtd. June 11 1998, at <> .
35. Ref.: ’US v. India (1998- : Nuclear Weapons Proliferation)’ by Gary Clyde Hufbauer (PIIE), Jeffrey J. Schott (PIIE), Kimberly Ann Elliott (PIIE) and Barbara Oegg (PIIE), dtd. May 1 2008, at <> .
36. Ref.: ’Joint Statement, Department of Atomic Energy and Defence Research and Development Organisation, 17 May (1998)’ at <> .
38. Ref.: ’6 questions on the 1998 nuclear tests’ by Aakar Patel, dtd. May 14 2018, at <> .
39. Ref.: ’Shakti Nuclear Weapons Tests: May 11-13, 1998’, at <> .
40. Ref.: ’Key Indian Official Warns Pakistan’ by Kenneth J. Cooper, dtd. May 19 1998, at <> .
41. On the day Vajpayee visited Pokhran[sic], Home Minister L.K. Advani warned Pakistan to either roll back its proxy war in Kashmir or be confronted with a pro-active India that included "hot pursuit" in case of intrusions. Such statements may have been long overdue but the problem is that this one came too soon after India’s nuclear tests. And it fuelled fears about India’s aggressive designs. The US, however, overreacted when State Department spokesman James Rubin criticised Advani and said, "India is foolishly and dangerously increasing tensions with its neighbours [emphasis added]."
(Ref.: ’HAWKISH INDIA’ by Manoj Joshi and Raj Chengappa, dtd. June 1 1998, at <> .)
And also: "We call upon India to exercise great caution in its statements and actions at this particularly sensitive time, with emotions running high," State Department spokesman James P Rubin said in Washington yesterday.
(Ref.: ’US deplores Advani’s warning to Pakistan’, dtd. May 20 1998, at <> .)
42. Ref.: ’India’s statement on US State Department Spokesman’s remarks’, dtd. May 21 1998, at <> .
43. ’Sharief smarts under Advani’s threat’, dtd. May 19 1998, at <> .
44. Ref.: ’Sharief accuses India of nuclear blackmail’, dtd. May 23 1998, at <> .
45. Ref.: ’Punishment: Make It Swift, Severe.’ by Benazir Bhutto, dtd. May 17 1998, at <> .
46. Ref.: ’Advani to oversee J&K dept’, dtd. May 23 1998, at <> .
47. Home Minister Lal Kishinchand Advani, who has just taken charge of the Jammu and Kashmir cell at the Centre, will launch a policy of "hot pursuit" to quell the proxy war by Pakistan in the state.
(Ref.: ‘Advani wants troops to strike across LoC to quell proxy war in Kashmir’ by George Iype, dtd. May 25 1998, at <> .)
As regards the (presumed) longstanding rivalry between the two, ref.: ’EDITORIAL 1 / RIVALS IN ARMS’, dtd. July 2 2002, at <> .
48. Ref.: ’We live in a world where India is surrounded by nuclear weaponry: Atal Bihari Vajpayee’ by Prabhu Chawla, dtd. May 25 1998, at <> .
49. On 16 October 1964, the People’s Republic of China conducted its first nuclear test, making it the fifth nuclear-armed state after the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France.
(Ref.: ’16 October 1964 - First Chinese nuclear test’ at <> .)
50. Here is an interesting observation by a foreign analyst: Why, then, did India choose to reveal its nuclear capabilities at this time (i.e. May 1998)? The answer lies in India’s desire to change its international image and promote national pride. In effect, its nuclear test was an act of rage prompted by what its leaders perceived as global indifference to India’s rightful position in the world.
(Ref.: ’The Indian/Pakistani Nuclear Tests: Brinkmanship without a Cause’ by Frank Louis Rusciano, Global Rage after the Cold War, 2006, p. 125, at <> .)
This point has also been graphically captured in an award-winning documentary film – ‘War and Peace’, by Anand Patwardhan (ref.: ’War and Peace wins National Award for Best Documentary of 2004’ at <> ) via a clip of Pramod Mahajan, one of the two Union Cabinet Ministers accompanying Vajpayee to the blast site, claiming – in terms of an (imaginary?) anecdote, in a public meeting, how a faceless India, overnight, turned into a global power, because of the blasts – attracting awe and respect, all around.
51. Ref.: ’XII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II, (Budget)’, dtd. May 27 1998, at <> .
52. Ref.: ’’India is today a nuclear weapons state. This is a reality that cannot be denied’’, dtd. May 27 1998, at <> .
53. Ref.: ’XII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II, (Budget)’, dtd. May 27 1998, at <> .
54. Ref.: ’India’s Nuclear Doctrine: Up for a Makeover?’ by Sukla Sen, dtd. May 25 2014, sub-sections ’The Road to Nuclear Doctrine’ and ’The Nuclear Doctrine in Place’, at <> .
55. Ref.: ’When Mountains Move – The Story of Chagai’ by Rai Muhammad Saleh Azam, The Nation, at <> .
56. Ref.: ’Somnath Chatterjee’ at <> .
58. ’’We are prepared to match India, we have the capability... We in Pakistan will maintain a balance with India in all fields,’’ he (Pakistani Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan) said (on May 12) in an interview. "We are in a headlong arms race on the subcontinent.’’
(Ref.: ’Pakistan under increasing domestic pressure to reply in kind’, dtd. May 12 1998, at <> .)
59. ’’It’s a matter of when, not if, Pakistan will test,’’ Mr. (Gohar) Ayub Khan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press today(May 18). ’’The decision has already been taken by the Cabinet.’’
(Ref.: ’NUCLEAR ANXIETY: THE NEIGHBOR; Pakistan Seems Mixed On Holding Nuclear Test’ by Stephen Kinzer, dtd. May 18 1998, at <> .)
60. Dr. Qadeer Khan, the head of Pakistan’s nuclear program, said last week that "it is a question of hours and not days" for Pakistan to carry out nuclear tests.
Ref.: ’Will Pakistan Test? The View from Islamabad’ by Farah Zahra, Global Beat Issue Brief No. 35, dtd. May 19 1998, at <> .
Quite significantly, this (fairly detailed analytical) report itself infers: With all eyes focused on Sharif and his expected announcement that Pakistan will carry out nuclear explosions, it will be difficult for him to bargain over international aid and incentives that the Pakistani Government considers "too little, too late."
61. In the pre-dawn hours of 28 May Pakistan cut the communication links for all Pakistani seismic stations to the outside world. All military and strategic installations in Pakistan were put on alert, and the Pakistan Air Force F-16A and F-7MP air defense fighters were placed on strip alert - ready to begin their take-off roll at any moment.
(Ref.: ’Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Program -1998: The Year of Testing’ by Carey Sublette, dtd, September 10 2001, at <> .)
Indian intelligence had, apparently, no inkling.
62. Ref.: ’Pak N-tests created ’new situation’: PM’, dtd. May 28 1998, at <> .
63. "Today, we have settled a score and have carried out five successful nuclear tests."
In a later address to Pakistani and foreign reporters, Sharif said:
"Pakistan today successfully conducted five nuclear tests...."
(Ref.: ’Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Program - 1998: The Year of Testing’ by Carey Sublette at <> .
For the complete text: <> .
64. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif later [i.e. subsequent to May 28 1998] acknowledged that the tests had been carried out in reaction to the Indian nuclear tests earlier that month: "If India had not exploded the bomb, Pakistan would not have done so. Once New Delhi did so, we had no choice because of public pressure."
(Ref.: ’28 MAY 1998 - PAKISTAN NUCLEAR TESTS’ at <> .)
Also ref.: ’’Indian actions skewed South Asia’s balance of power in 1998’’ by Web Desk, dtd. May 11 2-16, at <> .
65. Ref.: ’Storing up trouble: Pakistan’s nuclear bombs’, Editorial, dtd. Feb. 3 2011, at <> .
66. Ref.: ’REPORT OF PAKISTANI A-BOMB CAUSES A STIR IN THE REGION’ by Steven R. Weisman, dtd. March 2 1987, at <> .
Also ref.: ’Dr A.Q. Khan’s Pak N-bomb revelation brings prospect of nuke arms race to the subcontinent’ by Ramindar Singh and Dilip Bobb, dtd. March 31 1987, at <> .
67. Ref.: ’Pakistan’s Nuclear Program Chronology: 1980 - 1989’ at <> .
68. Ref.: ’NUCLEAR ANXIETY: IN WASHINGTON; After an Anguished Phone Call, Clinton Penalizes the Pakistanis’ by Tim Weiner, dtd. May 29 1998, at <> .
69. One illustration: ’India and Pakistan on the Brink: The 1998 Nuclear Tests’ at <> .
70. Ref.: ’Against Nuclear Apartheid’ by Jaswant Singh, Forreign Affairs77, no. 5 (September-October 1998), at <> .
For Singh’s status as a Vajpayee loyalist, ref: ’’The Vajpayee PMO will be run by proven loyalists’’ by Prabhu Chawla, dtd. April 13 1998 <> .
71. Ref.: Interview with Jasjit Singh, ’One on One,’ Defense News (July 27–August 2, 1998), p. 22, as cited in ’The Stability-Instability Paradox: Misperception, and Escalation Control in South Asia’ by Michael Krepon, 2004, p. 4, at <> .
72. Ref.: ’Indo-Pakistan in War and Peace’ by J N Dixit, (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 333-4.
73. Ref.: <> .
74. Ref.: ’The Stability-Instability Paradox: Misperception, and Escalation Control in South Asia’ by Michael Krepon, 2004, p. 4, at <> .
75. Ref.: ’The Stability-Instability Paradox: Misperception, and Escalation Control in South Asia’ by Michael Krepon, 2004, p. 5, at <> .
76. Ref.: ’Interview with External Affairs Minister Mr. Jaswant Singh’, dtd. November 25 1999, at <> .
77. Ref.: ’Interview of External Affairs Minister Shri Jaswant Singh with Suddesutsche Zeitung, Germany’, dtd. September 05, 2000, at <> .
78. Ref.: ’Remembering Sandy Berger and the day he saved the world’ by Bruce Riedel, dtd. December 2 2015, at <> .
79. Ref.: ’20 years after Kargil War: How India readied nuclear weapons in IAF’s Mirage’ by Sushant Singh, dtd. July 21 2019, at <> .
80. At this point, no one believes the absoluteness of India’s NFU declaration — though it sort of remains official doctrine — including, most importantly, India’s government itself.
(Ref.: ’Vipin Narang on the Global Nuclear Landscape: Hype and Reality’ by Abhijnan Rej, dtd. October 13 2020, at <> .)
81. Ref.: Ref.: ’The End of Imagination’ by Arundhati Roy, dtd. August 1 1998, at <> .
82. Ref.: ’Draft Report of National Security Advisory Board on Indian Nuclear Doctrine’, dtd. August 17 1999, at <> .
84. Ref.: ’The nuclear button’ by John Cherian, dtd. January 31 2003, at <> .
85. Ref.: ’INDIA’S NEW "COLD START" WAR DOCTRINE STRATEGICALLY REVIEWED’, by Dr Subhash Kapila, dtd. 04. 05. 2004, at <> .
86. Ref.: ’The Cold End of Cold Start Doctrine?’ by Yogesh Joshi, dtd. October 13 2010, at <> .
87. Ref.: ’Taking ‘Cold Start’ out of the freezer?’ by Vipin Narang and Walter C. Ladwig III, dtd. January 11 2017, at <> .
88. Ref.: ’Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons and India’s Response’ by Brig. Pillalmarri Subramanyam, dtd. October 30 2016, at <> .
89. Ref.: ’Is the Indian Military Capable of Executing the Cold Start Doctrine?’ by Franz-Stefan Gady, dtd. January 29 2019, at <> .
90. Since Pakistan tested its nuclear devices in May 1998, it has not formally declared an official nuclear use doctrine. Pakistani officials maintain that ambiguity serves Pakistan’s interests better, since ambiguity does not provide information about Pakistan’s nuclear thresholds that an enemy would need to exploit gaps in the plans. Whether this ambiguity actually brings stability or not is hard to figure. The lack of a public, official doctrine does not, however, suggest that no doctrine exists. A close look at official statements, interviews, and developments related to nuclear weapons provide substantive clues about the contours of Pakistan’s doctrine in practice.
(Ref.: ’Pakistan’s Nuclear Use Doctrine’ by Sadia Tasleem. dtd. June 30 2016, at <> .)
91. Essentially, a reiteration of the above, while, purportedly, contradicting it: Contrary to the popular belief that Pakistan does not have a nuclear doctrine, in fact it had its doctrine ready well before the Indians had pronounced their draft nuclear doctrine in August 1999. For a variety of reasons, Pakistan has chosen not to publicly pronounce its doctrine. One possible explanation is that Pakistan believes that ambiguity adds to the value of deterrence.
(Ref.: ’The Evolution of Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine’ by Naeem Salik in ’Nuclear Learning: The Next Decade in South Asia’, edited by Feroz Hassan Khan, Ryan Jacobs and Emily Burke, Naval Postgraduate School, June 2014, p. 74, at <> .)
92. “Nuclear weapons (of ours) are aimed solely at India. In case that deterrence fails, they will be used if
India attacks Pakistan and conquers a large part of its territory (space threshold)
India destroys a large part either of its land or air forces (military threshold)
India proceeds to the economic strangling of Pakistan (economic strangling)
India pushes Pakistan into political destabilization or creates a large scale internal subversion in Pakistan (domestic destabilization)
(As enunciated by General Khalid Kidwai, the (first) head (from 2000 to 2013) of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) of Pakistan.)
(Ref.: ’Nuclear safety, nuclear stability and nuclear strategy in Pakistan: A concise report of a visit’ by Landau Network – Centro Volta, dtd. January 14 2002, at <> .)
Also ref.: ’Economic Threat May Push Pakistan to Nukes – Report’ by IPS Correspondents, Islamabad, dtd. February 4 2002, at <> .
93. India was harshly condemned around the globe yesterday for conducting nuclear tests on Monday. Arch-rival Pakistan debated whether to respond with a nuclear test of its own, and Japan, India’s biggest aid donor, said it may withhold assistance worth as much as a billion dollars.
In Washington, President Clinton said he was disturbed by an act that threatens the stability of South Asia and "directly challenges the firm international consensus to stop nuclear proliferation." He vowed "to implement . . . fully" U.S. sanctions laws intended to deter the spread of nuclear arms and urged India to promise it would carry out no further tests.
In addition, the United States recalled its ambassador to New Delhi, while the White House said that Clinton’s planned trip to India later this year is under review.
(Ref.: ’INDIAN BLASTS BRING WORLD CONDEMNATION’ by Kamran Khan and Kevin Sullivan, dtd. May 13 1998, at <> .)
94. Over 30 countries took the floor to express regret over India’s decision, which many said broke the international norm against test explosions established by the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiated at the Conference. According to the representative of Australia, his Government could only conclude that the tests were the doing of a Government that had the utmost disregard for accepted international norms of behaviour. India’s actions were a slap in the face to the overwhelming majority of the international community determined to work towards the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world, he said.
95. The Security Council this morning condemned the nuclear tests conducted by India and by Pakistan in May, demanded that those countries refrain from further nuclear tests and urged them to become parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) without delay and without conditions.
Endorsing the Joint Communique issued by the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States at their meeting in Geneva on 4 June, the Council, by adopting unanimously resolution 1172 (1998), expressed its firm conviction that the international regime on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons should be maintained and consolidated. It recalled that in accordance with the NPT India and Pakistan cannot have the status of a nuclear-weapon State.
96. As for bilateral official aid, Jappan is the single largest donor of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) to India, Japan’s aid commitment to India currently runs at around US $ 1 billion annually, Japan has temporarily frozen most of it. Germany has suspended its US $ 300 million aid package. Sweden and Denmark have also done so. Their combined aid runs to around US $ 200 million. So has the US suspended its aid to India which is even smaller. The Reserve Bank of India is understood to have recently prepared a report which is stated to have estimated total loss of inflow of foreign exchange due to the suspension of foreign aid to India at US $ 2.8 billion as a combined total of such and from all donor sources.
(Ref.: ’Costs of Economic Sanctions-Aftermath of Pokhran II’ by Charan D Wadhva, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 33, Issue No. 26, dtd. June 27 1998, at <> .)
97. The United States has a strange way of being friendly. One day it pats you on the back and I follows that up the very next day with a punch in the solar plexus. That’s the feeling India seems to have after being bludgeoned on November 13 with a list of 200 entities to which US firms "are essentially banned from exporting anything".
Officially the US action is a consequence of the Pokhran II tests. But coming as it does after the allegedly successful talks between the prime minister’s envoy Jaswant Singh and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, the action appears ill-timed and hurtful.
(Ref.: ’Pokhran II fallout: US sanctions against India unlikely to work’ by Shefali Rekhi and Manoj Joshi, dtd. November 30 1998, at <> .)
98. India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests, as its Pokhran-I test, set off a worldwide storm of reactions. While, some countries opposed the tests, some others endorsed India’s right for such an exercise. Among the P 5, besides the US, China and UK were too critical of India’s tests and Russia was not harsh in its reaction13. One of the P 5, France, though concerned about impact of India’s nuclear tests on the non-proliferation efforts of the international community, recognised India’s right for such exercise. While some countfies including Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Sweden were for imposing sanctions on India, either for the sake of mere punishment or for achieving nonproliferation demands, Russia, UK and France were firmly against imposing sanctions for any purpose, as they believed that sanctions were counter productive since they hurt the poorest people and preferred diplomatic solution for sanctions. Russian Foreign Minister, Yevgeng Primakov, said that Russia was "very suspicious of sanctions" as it was "an extreme measure and often counter-productive". UK opposed sanctions as it perceived economic sanctions were counter-productive since they hurt the poorest people. France, which endorsed India’s rights to take decisions on matters related to its security and to exercise independent judgment, also had the similar perception on sanctions.
(Ref.: ’Politics of US sanctions policy : a study of Pokhran-I and Pokhran- II nuclear tests’, research paper, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 2004, Chapter-IV, p. P. 122-3, by N Kannan at <> .)
99. Today, in the aftermath of a series of nuclear test explosions set off by the bitter rivals, there is no place on Earth with greater potential for triggering a nuclear war. Incidents that a month ago would have been considered routine in a region where cross-border artillery barrages are commonplace have taken on exaggerated proportions.
(Ref.: Kashmir Is South Asian Flash Point’ by Molly Moore and Kamran Khan, dtd. June 3 1998, at <> .)
100. "The most dangerous place in the world today, I think you could argue, is the Indian subcontinent and the line of control in Kashmir"
President Clinton on 10 March (2000)
(Ref.: ’Analysis: The world’s most dangerous place?’, dtd. March 23 2000, at <> .)
101. Ref.: ’Remembering an icon of peace’ by Mushahid Hussain, dtd. August 18 2018, at <> .
102. Ref.: ’Vajpayee drives across the border into Pakistan and history’ by George Iype, dtd. February 20 1999, at <> .
103. Ref.: ’Indian Leader Accepts Pakistani Offer to Take a Ride to Lahore’ by Celia W. Dugger, dtd. February 4 1999, at <> .
104. Ref.: ’Kargil: What kind of a democracy are we that we are shy of facing the truth about our wars?’ by Shekhar Gupta, dtd. June 13 2018, at <> .
105. Ref.: ’The real story behind Vajpayee’s bus trip to Lahore’ by Shekhar Gupta, dtd. August 29 2018, at <> .
106. Ref.: ’CRISIS IN INDIAN SOCIETY: Life in make-believe world’ by T. V. Rajeswar, dtd. February 18 1999, at <> .
107. Also ref: ’A Proxy War Of Words: The sangh parivar gets a new spokesbody’ by Rajesh Joshi, dtd. March 01 1999, at <> .
108. VHP leader, Acharya Dharmendra, ridiculed the Prime Minister’s symbolic gesture to normalise relations with Pakistan; he suggested that Vajpayee ride a tank to Lahore instead of going there by bus.
(Ref.: ’The war within’ by V Venkatesan, dtd. February 13 1999, at <> .)
109. Ref.: ’Natural Allies? The India-US Relations from the Clinton Administration to the Trump Era’, by Aparna Pande, Asie.Visions, No. 104, Ifri, December 2018, p. 12, at <> .
110. Ref.: ’XII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session III, (Winter), December 15, 1998 /Agrahayana 24, 1920 (Saka)’ at <> .
111. Ref.: ’Indo-US Relations: Delhi dialogue and after’ by J N Dixit, dtd. February 11 1999, at <> .
112. In this book, the American point man for the dialogue takes us behind the scenes of one of the most suspenseful and consequential diplomatic dramas of our time, reconstructing what happened—and why—with narrative verve, rich human detail, and penetrating analysis. From June 1998 to September 2000, in what was the most extensive dialogue ever between the United States and India, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Indian Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh met fourteen times in seven countries on three continents.
(Ref.: ’Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb’, by Strobe Talbott, dtd. August 5 2004, at <> .)
113. Ref.: ’Clinton welcomes Lahore summit’, February 23 1999, at <> .
114. Ref.: ’India-Pak make ’significant progress’, says US’, dtd February 24 19999, at <> .
115. Ref,: ’When Vajpayee took a bus ride and it seemed peace with Pakistan was possible’ by Nayanima Basu, dtd. February 19 2019, at <> .
116. Ref.: ’Dialogue, Democracy and Nuclear Weapons in South Asia’ by Strobe Talbott, Dy. Secy. of State, dtd, January 16 1999, US Department of State Archive, at <> .
117. Ref.: ’American Diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil Summit at Blair House’ by Bruce Riedel, Policy Paper Series (2002), Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania, p. 10-11, at <> .
118. India and Pakistan have long held contradictory views on the involvement of external nonregional powers—primarily the United States—in their conflict. Whereas Delhi has opposed the intervention of ‘third parties’ in what it sees as a ‘bilateral’ dispute over Kashmir—due primarily to an uncertain outcome—Islamabad has actively encouraged international mediation to balance its asymmetrical relationship with India. The United States has also had an ambivalent attitude in an active and sustained role in South Asia.
(Ref.: ’The United States’ role and influence on the India-Pakistan conflict’ by Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, India and Palkstan Peace by Piece (2004), Disarmament Forum, p. 31, at <> .)
119. After the (May ’98 nuclear) tests, the thinking in Washington was "to get the Indians to accept the CTBT along with meaningful restraints on their nuclear and missile programmes in exchange for our easing sanctions and throttling back on the campaign of international criticism we were orchestrating".
It is hardly a surprise that Jaswant, isolated in the Cabinet, was unable to deliver to the Americans what they wanted. Talbott states that before he left the government, Jaswant "apologised" to him for having "let you down" on CTBT. When Jaswant was shifted to the Finance Ministry, Talbott was concerned that his buddy might have "lost out to Advani, [Brajesh] Mishra, and conservatives within the BJP".
(Ref.: ’Strobe Talbott chronicles India-US relations after Pokhran in ’Engaging India...’’ by Brahma Chellaney, dtd. October 4 2004, at <> .)
120. On October 26, 1998, Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying, “Nuclear scientists have advised the government that there was no harm in signing the CTBT and FMCT at this stage as we had enough enriched nuclear material to maintain the power equilibrium in the region.”...Similarly, in 2006, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Jahangir Karamat, a former army chief, seemed to indicate that Pakistan might consider a bilateral moratorium with India, suggesting that “if bilaterally, the U.S. can facilitate a moratorium on fissile material production or on testing: we are very happy to be part of that.”
When it comes to an FMCT, Pakistan’s security managers, predominantly the army, have been pursuing business as usual, which for the past five decades has meant trying to maintain strategic parity with India. Blocking talks on an FMCT enables them to continue to build up their fissile material stockpile and to highlight to the international community their concerns about a fissile material gap with India and the consequences of India’s current military buildup, especially India’s search for missile defenses, and the consequences of the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal. ...
(Ref.: ’Playing the Nuclear Game: Pakistan and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty’ by Zia Mian and A.H. Nayyar, Arms Control Today (April 2010), p. 19 & 23, , at <> .)
121. Nonetheless, Iran and India did express their opposition, which rendered the CD unable to transmit the report, even without the text of the Treaty, to the United Nation’s General Assembly.
The General Assembly voted 158 in favour of the Treaty on 10 September 1996, with three countries against (Bhutan, India and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) and five abstentions (Cuba, Mauritius, the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon and the United Republic of Tanzania).
(Ref.: ’1996: CTBT: A LONG-SOUGHT SUCCESS’ at <> .)
Also ref.: ’INDIA VETOES PACT TO FORBID TESTING OF NUCLEAR ARMS’ by Barbara Crossette, dtd. August 21 1996, at <> and ’India defiant after UN approves test ban’ by Mark Tran, New York, dtd. September 11 1996, at <> .
122. Ref.: ’The Lahore Declaration’, dtd. February 21 1999, at <> .
123. Ref.: Recognising that the nuclear dimension of the security environment of the two countries adds to their responsibility for avoidance of conflict between the two countries;
124. Ref.: ’Pak military chiefs boycott Wagah welcome’, George Iype in Lahore, dtd. February 20 1999, at <> .
125. Ref.: ’Jamaat strike against visit of Vajapayee halts Lahore’ by Romesh Arora in Lahore, dtd. February 20 1999, at <> .
126. Ref.: ’PAKISTAN: MUSLIM MILITANTS CLASH WITH POLICE’ by APTN in Lahore, dtd. February 20 1999, at <> .
127. A split-second decision by a shepherd saved valuable lives in the Indian Army when the Kargil War was still in its early days in 1999.
Tashi Namgyal, now 52, has vivid memories of that day in early May, when he accidently chanced upon six camouflaged Pakistani soldiers while searching for his missing yak on the outskirts of his house in Garkon village, near a mountain ridge in Kargil’s Batalik sector. Mr. Namgyal immediately informed the Army outpost.
(Ref.: ’13 years on, a good shepherd awaits recognition’ by Shoumojit Banerjee, dtd. August 7 2014, at <> .)
128. Tashi Namgyal, now 56, lives in a small village called Gharkon near Batalik town some 60 km from Kargil town of Ladakh region. Tashi Namgyal recalled how he spotted the Pakistani infiltrators on May 3, 1999 [and promptly reported to the nearest Army post].
(Ref.: ’Kargil War: Meet the shepherd who warned the Army’ by Rouf A Roshangar in Srinagar, dtd. July 22 2019, at <> .)
129. Ref.: ’KARGIL WAR 15 YEARS ON: The sheer force of blood & honour’ by Dinesh Kumar, dtd. July 20 2014, at <> .
130. Ref.: ’Kargil War’ at <> .
131. Ref.: ’1999 Kargil Conflict’ at <> .
132. Ref.: ’Kargil War: How events unfolded’, dtd. July 26 2017, at <> .
133. Ref.: ’Kargil conflict timelin’, dtd. July 13 1999, at <> .
134. On 30 May 1999, soon after India employed air power in the Kargil conflict, the Pakistan foreign secretary, Shamshad Ahmad told The News International and Daily Jang newspapers: ‘We will not hesitate to use any weapon in our arsenal to defend our territorial integrity,’ given the overt nuclearisation of Pakistan in May 1998, this threat had obvious connotations. The statement was denied the same night by the Pakistan foreign spokesman by saying that the foreign secretary had been completely misquoted and his comments reported out of context. The nuclear threat, however, made international headlines and may have served, albeit marginally, the Pakistani purpose of linking the war to the nuclear issue. The important nuclear lesson of Kargil was that such linkages would be easier in future conflicts.
(Ref.: ’The Dilemmas of Kargil’ by Lt Gen Prakash Menon, dtd. August 6 2018, at <> .)
135. Ref.: ’India agrees to Kashmir talks’, dtd. May 31 1999, at <> .
136. Ref.: ’Pakistan, India, try to resolve Kashmir differences’, dtd. June 12 1999, at <> .
Also ref.: ’Kargil will feature prominently in talks with China’, dtd, June 10 1999, at <> .
137. Ref.: ’Talks collapse amidst accusations, bitterness’ by George Iype in New Delhi , dtd. June 12 1999, at <> .
138. Ref.: ’World: South Asia: Infiltrators driven out, says India’ dtd. June 17 1999, at <> .
139. Ref.: ’India was ready to cross LoC, use nuclear weapons in Kargil war: Barkha Dutt’s book reveals India had made a ’six-day war plan’ in place’ by BS Web Team, dtd. December 4 2015, at <> .
140. A secret letter by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee ro US President Bill Clinton at the height of Kargil war in 1999 made it clear that if Pakistani infiltrators did not withdraw from Indian territory, "one way or other we will get them out." Though India’s options were never spelt out in the missive, in an interview to NDTV’s Consulting Editor, Barkha Dutt just two months before he died, the former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra revealed that "Crossing the Line of Control was not ruled out, nor was the use of nuclear weapons."
(Ref.: ’Kargil War: Barkha Dutt reveals unknown facts in her book This Unquiet Land - Stories from India’s Fault Lines’, dtd. December 2 2015, at <> .)
141. Ref.: ’Nawaz Sharif’s pleas and Bill Clinton’s intervention in the Kargil War; by Srinath Raghavan, dtd. June 24 2018, at <> .
142. Ref.: ’Vajpayee loses confidence vote by 1 vote’, dtd. April 17 1999, at <> .
143. Ref.: ’Jaya meets President, withdraws support’, dtd. April 14 1999, at <> .
144. Another noteworthy feature was the honour accorded spontaneously to the soldiers who died in battle. Day after day the press carried reports of how thousands of people would turn up to pay their homage to soldiers killed in Kargil battle when their bodies were brought for funerals to their villages and towns. The bereaved families of all the soldiers were made to feel they were not alone in their sorrow, that others not only shared their grief but were also eager to honour those who lost their lives reclaiming or defending Indian territory.
For example, at the cremation of Major Manoj Talwar in Meerut "...all roads leading to the cremation ground were jampacked and vehicular traffic came to a halt at different places, when an army motorcade carrying the body of the dead Major wrapped in the tricolour flag, passed through the city for its cremation with full military honours. Earlier with the arrival of the body more than 50,000 people belonging to Meerut, Baghpat and their nearby districts began to pour in his residence to pay homage to Major Talwar." (The Times of India, July 17, 1999)
Similar scenes were repeated in virtually every part of the country: cities, towns and even villages including in the insurgency ridden Northeast. In Assam, people even braved the ULFA’s (United Liberation Front of Assam) directives against honouring the army heroes of Kargil and mustered courage to stand up against ULFA’s murderous and extortionist politics for the first time since this terrorist outfit came into prominence.
(Ref.: ’When Soldiers Became National Heroes: Kargil Holds a Mirror to Our Rulers’ by Madhu Kishwar, Manushi, Issue 113, July-August 1999, at <> .)
145. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has declined an invitation from President Clinton to visit Washington to discuss the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. India’s foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal today said President Clinton called Vajpayee and urged him to visit the United States. ’Mr. Vajpayee said he could not accept the invitation under the present circumstances,’ Jassal said.
(Ref.: ’Vajpayee declines Clinton invitation’ by Harbaksh Singh Nanda, dtd. July 4 1999, at <> .)
146. Ref.: ’The Day A Nuclear Conflict Was Averted’ by Strobe Talbott, dtd. September 13 2004, at <> .
147. Ref.: ’Clinton, Sharif statement on Kashmir’, Reuters, dtd. July 4 1999, at <> .
148. Ref.: ’Joint Statement With Prime Ministe rNawaz Sharif of Pakistan’ dtd.July 4 1999, at <> .
149. Ref.: ’Conflict Chronology’, appended to ’Kargil War: Need to learn strategic lessons’ by General (Retd) V P Malik, dtd. July 26 2011, at <> .
150. India announced today that it had suspended a six-week military campaign against Pakistan-based fighters who had occupied Himalayan peaks in Jammu and Kashmir state. It also said it would not fire on the fighters as long as they complete their withdrawal by Friday.
(Ref.: ’India Holds Fire in Kashmir As Enemy Forces Pull Out’ by Celia W. Dugger, dtd. July 13 1999, at <> .)
151. Ref.: ’India to hold mid-term elections’ by Arun Kumar, dtd. May 3 1999, at <> and ’India: Election-Watcher’s Guide’, SOUTH ASIA MONITOR, No. 13, dtd. September 1 1999, at <> .
152. Ref.: ’Kargil Vijay Diwas: How India recaptured its towering hills’, dtd. July 25 2018, at <> .
153. Ref.: ’History of Conflict in India and Pakistan’, dtd. November 26 2019, at <> .
154. Left alone to cope with the mess created by Pakistan, India charted its own course and began preparing for an eventuality. Against all calculations, In[sic] December 1971, India fought a war with Pakistan; dealt it a humiliating defeat and kept its word to the refugees that they will be sent back “with honour” to their home – now Bangladesh. Some 6.8 million returned within two months of the end of the war while the last batch of 3,869 refugees left on March 25, 1972.
(Ref.: ’How India responded to the influx of 10 million refugees’ by Aasha Khosa, dtd. October 5 2015, at <> .)
155. Ref.: ’Why did Operation Gibraltar fail?’ by Ahmad Faruqui, dtd. August 6 2018, at <> .
156. Ref.: ’1965 War: Op Gibraltar and How the War Started’ by Brig. D S Sarao, dtd. September 16 2015, at <> .
157. Standing before Mr. Clinton at a long banquet table, Mr. Narayanan scolded him for his description of the Indian subcontinent "as the most dangerous place in the world today."
The president has publicly used that term twice in the last two months to describe a situation where India and neighboring Pakistan have nuclear weapons and are also at the edge of a conflict in Kashmir.
(Ref.: ’U.S. and India, Trying to Reconcile, Hit Bump’ by Jane Perlez, dtd. March 22 2000, at <> .)
158. Ref.: ’IC 814 hijack crisis plays spoilsport for politicians: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s December 25 birthday bash was not the only party to be cancelled on account of the hijacking of IC 814 on X’mas eve.’, dtd. January 10 2009, at <> .
159. 19. I decided to go to Kandahar so as to ensure that the termination of the hijacking, the smooth release and safe return of passengers and crew took place without any last minute hitch, also that should a need arise, prompt decisions could be taken on the spot. I believe my presence in Kandahar, and on board the aircraft on which the hostages returned home, provided solace to the released passengers, who had been held captive for over a week. My travel on the same aircraft as the three terrorists was entirely on account of logistical compulsions, brought about by the limited infrastructural facilities at Kandahar airport, and its incapacity to handle any more aircraft simultaneously.
(Ref.: ’Suo Motu Statement by Minister of External Affairs in Parliament on the Hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814’, dtd March 1 2000, at <> .)
160. What followed was pretty shameful. Jaswant Singh asked at the Cabinet meeting (on the morning of December 31 1999) if he could go to Kandahar to greet the released hostages. The Prime Minister agreed. But what nobody seemed to have worked out was that the three released terrorists would have to fly with Jaswant. In effect, it seemed as though India’s Foreign Minister was personally escorting three murderous terrorists. Jaswant Singh further embarrassed himself on the tarmac at Kandahar by hugging the Taliban leadership and parading arm-in-arm with the thugs who then ran Afghanistan.
That is how an India journalist would recount.
(Ref.: ’The Ghosts Of Kandahar’ by Vir Sanghvi, dtd. April 16 2006, at <> .)
Also watch this 3.28 min. video clip at

161. Ref.: ’Terrorism: India’s unending war’ by B Raman [former head of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) - external intelligence agency], dtd. April 04 2003, at <> .
162. Ref.: ’Who is Maqbool Butt?’ by Hashim Qureshi, dtd. February 7 2012, at <> .
163. Ref.: ’Air India Flight 182’ at <> .
164. Ref.: ’Where are the 3 terrorists who were swapped for 170 passengers of hijacked IC-814?’ by Ananya Bhardwaj, dtd. December 24 2019, at <> .
165. 24. Hon’ble Members would permit me to add that the hijacking of IC-814 was an exceptionally professional and complex operation; Kandahar, possibly the most adverse location for us from where to adddress the situation; and the triangular coordination of the incident by the hijackers, the Taliban, HUM and ISI operatives [emphasis added] a most demanding challenge.
(Ref.: ’Suo Motu Statement by Minister of External Affairs in Parliament on the Hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814’, dtd. March 1 2000, at <> .)
166. Ref.: ’Terrorists attack Parliament; five intruders, six cops killed’ by a correspondent, New Delhi, dtd. December 13 2001, at <> .
167. Ref.: ’Thousands Feared Dead as World Trade Center Is Toppled’ by James Barron, dtd. September 11 2001, at <> .
168. Ref.: ’Explained: 2001 Parliament attack, and what happened after’, dtd. December 13 2019, at <> .
169. In an obvious reference to Pakistan, Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani on Friday said clues pointed to a neighbouring country in Thursday’s attack on Parliament House.
"We have received some clues about yesterday’s incident, which shows that a neighbouring country, and some terrorist organisations active there are behind it," Advani said at a function in New Delhi.
(Ref.: ’Parliament attack: Advani points towards neighbouring country’, dtd. December 14 2001, at <> .)
170. Ref.: ’Statement made by Shri L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister on Tuesday, the 18th December, 2001 In Lok Sabha in Connection with the terrorist attack on Parliament House’, dtd. December 18 2001, at <> .
171. Ref.: ’‘Twin Peaks’ and one long Trough: ‘Operation Parakram’ a decade on.’ by Ben Moles, dtd. September 18 2012, at

172. The Indian military mobilisation between December 2001 and October 2002 has been interpreted as an exercise in coercive diplomacy aimed at compelling Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism and renounce it as an instrument of policy against India.
(Ref.: ’Operation Parakram: An Indian exercise in coercive diplomacy’ by S. Kalyanaraman, Associate Fellow at IDSA, dtd. April 3 2008, at <> .)
173. Ref.: ’33 killed in attack on army camp in Jammu’ by Mukhtar Ahmad, Srinagar, dtd. May 14 2002, at <> .
174. Ref.: ’A timeline of major attacks on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’, PTI, dtd. February 15 2019, at <> .
175. Ref.: ’Fact Sheet on Jammu & Kashmir’, dtd may 20 2002, at <> .
176. Ref.: ’Hold the Vajpayee-Manmohan line’ by Harish Khare, dtd. August 14 2013, at <> .
177. Ref.: ’Introduction’ by Michael Krepon, ’US Crisis Management in South Asia’s Twin Peaks Crisis’, Report 57, Stimson Center, September 2014, p. 10, at <> .
178. Ref.: ’Major incidents of terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir: 2012-1990’ at <> .
179. Ref.: ’Major Terrorist Attacks on Security Forces and other high security targets in the Post-Kargil Period in Jammu and Kashmir’ at <> .
180. Ref.: ’Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008’ by Shanthie Mariet D’Souza at <> .
181. Ref.: ’Ten busiest railway stations of India’ at <> .
182. The two Prime Ministers had a cordial and constructive meeting. They considered the entire gamut of bilateral relations with a view to charting the way forward in India - Pakistan relations.
(Ref.: ’Joint Statement Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’, dtd. July 16 2009, at <> .)
183. In a diplomatic coup, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore on Friday for a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif that gave fresh impetus to the recently reset bilateral dialogue. Modi’s unscheduled visit marked the first time in 11 years that an Indian prime minister travelled to Pakistan and came after a year and a half of a roller-coaster ride in India-Pakistan ties.
(Ref.: ’PM Modi takes a detour to Pak, discusses ties with Sharif’ by Imtiaz Ahmad and Jayanth Jacob, dtd. December 26 2015, at <> .)
184. Ref.: ’Road to Agra : Hope or Despair?’ by Sukla Sen, dtd. July 15 2001, Sl No. 2 at <> .
185. Ref.: ’When Vajpayee and Musharraf ’Almost Resolved’ the Kashmir Dispute’ by Uday Singh Rana, dtd. February 13 2018, at <> .
186. A maulana walked up to the stage to meet Narendra Modi and told him he had something to offer him before taking out a skullcap from the side pocket of his sidepocket of robe, hoping that the Modi will wear it graciously since he has been letting different people tie turbans.
Seeing the cap, Modi’s expression changed like a flash and he gestured that he would not prefer wearing the cap under the gaze of cameras.
(Ref: ’Revealed: Why Modi refused to wear Muslim skull cap’ by Mahesh Langa, dtd. Sep 19, 2011, at <> .)
187. Ref.: ’No guilty feeling about Gujarat riots, says Modi’, dtd. July 12 2013, at <> .
188. Ref.: ’Narendra Modi’s ’Hindu nationalist’ posters should be banned, says Samajwadi Party’ by Deepshikha Ghosh, dtd. July 24 2013, at <> .
189. Ref.: ’Who can boast about a 56-inch chest?’ by Veenu Sandhu, dtd. January 31 2014, at <> .
190. Ref.: ’Narendra Modi’s talk of ’56-inch chest’ draws acerbic response from Sharad Yadav’ by Manish Kumar, dtd. January 24 2014, at <> .
191. The data recently released by the Ministry of Home Affairs shows that between 2014 and 2018, there has been a 93 per cent rise in the number of security personnel killed in terrorist incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides this, these five years also saw a 176 per cent rise in the number of terrorist incidents in the state.
(Ref.: ’Pulwama terror attack: In last 5 years, J&K saw 93% rise in death of security personnel in terror attacks’ by Mukesh Rawat, dtd, February 14 2019, at <> .)
192. Ref.: ’In 5 years, death of jawans in terror attacks rose by 106% in J&K’ by Anupa Kujur, dtd. February 15 2019, at <> .
193. Ref.: ’Soldiers killed in army base attack in Indian-administered Kashmir’ by Mukhtar Ahmad, Rich Phillips and Joshua Berlinger, dtd. September 19 2016, at <> .
194. Ref.: ’One more soldier succumbs to injuries, death toll rises to 18 in Uri attack’, dtd. Sep 19 2016, at <> .
195. As anger rises over the brazen terror attack in Uri by Pakistan-backed terrorists, India Today has got access to the government’s strategy to counter Islamabad. According to sources, the Narendra Modi government is firm on the fact that Pakistan can’t go unpunished. In fact, within hours of the Uri attack, the Prime Minister had said that "those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished".
(Ref.: ’Uri attack: Pakistan can’t go unpunished, PM Modi has approved effective retaliation’, dtd. September 20 2016, at <> .)
196. Ref.: ’India’s surgical strikes across LoC: Full statement by DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh’, dtd. September 29 2016, at <> and ’The Inside Story of India’s 2016 ‘Surgical Strikes’’ by Nitin A. Gokhale, dtd. September 23 2017, at <> .
197. Ref.: ’India’s ’surgical strikes’ in Kashmir: Truth or illusion?’ by M Ilyas Khan, dtd. October 22 2016, at <> .
198. Ref.: ’UN observers have not directly witnessed firing across LoC: Ban spokesperson’, IANS, United Nations, dtd. September 30 2016, at <> .
199. Ref.: ’Why India’s response to Pathankot attack was ’a debacle’’, dtd. January 6 2016, at <> .
200. Ref.: ’Announcement of Schedule for General Elections to Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha & Sikkim, 2019’ at <> .
201. Ref.: ’Top news of the day: 2019 Lok Sabha polls schedule announced, no survivors in Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, and more’, dtd. March 10 2019, at <> .
202. Ref.: ’PM Modi kickstarts BJP poll campaign in Bengal, goes after Opposition’, dtd. February 02 2019, at <> .
203. Ref.: ’Kashmir suicide attack kills dozens of Indian security forces’ by Rifat Fareed, dtd. February 14 2019, at <> .
204. Ref.: ’Pulwama terror attack: What happened on Feb 14 and how India responded’, dtd. February 14 2020, at <> .
205. Ref.: ’PM’s statement on terror attack in Pulwama’, dtd. February 15 2019, at <> .
206. Ref.: ’Pulwama Attack: Modi Has No Choice But to Flex Muscle Before Polls’ by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, dtd. February 15 2019, at <> .
207. Ref.: ’Pulwama terror attack and how it has changed India in just a year’ by Sriram Iyer, dtd. February 14 2020, at <> .
208. Ref.: ’Jaish-e-Mohammed claims responsibility for Pulwama attacks’ by Hakeem Irfan Rashid, dtd. February 15 2019, at <> .
209. Ref.: ’Explainer: Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Pakistan-based militants, at heart of tension with India’ by James Mackenzie and Sanjeev Miglani, dtd. February 15 2019, at <> .
210. Ref.: ’Timeline: India and Pakistan’s latest confrontation over Kashmir’ by Saheli Roy Choudhury, dtd. March 1 2019, at <> .
211. Ref.: ’Surgical Strike in Pakistan a Botched Operation?’ by DFRLab, dtd. March 1 2019, at <> .
212. Ref.: ’Satellite Imagery confirms India missed target in Pakistan airstrike’ by, dtd. March 6 2019, at <> .
213. Ref.: ’An air strike and its aftermath’ by Simon Scarr, Chris Inton and Han Huang, dtd. March 6 2019, at <> .
214. Ref.: ’Satellite images show buildings still standing at Indian bombing site’ by Martin Howell, Gerry Doyle and Simon Scarr, dtd. March 6 2019, at <> .
215. Ref.: ’India’s strike on Balakot: a very precise miss?’ by Marcus Hellyer, Nathan Ruser and Aakriti Bachhawat, dtd. March 27 2019 at <> .
216. Ref.: ’Inside the Pakistani madrasa where India said it killed hundreds of ’terrorists’’ by Martin Howell and Salahuddin, dtd. April 11 2019, at <> and ’Balakot air strike: Pakistan shows off disputed site on eve of India election’, dtd. April 10 2019, at <> .
217. Ref.: ’India Pakistan: Kashmir fighting sees Indian aircraft downed’, dtd. February 27 2019, at <> .
218. Ref.: ’As it happened | Pak military top brass apprise lawmakers’, dtd. February 28 2019, at <> .
219. This is the first time after the 1971 war that Indian fighter aircraft have violated Pakistani airspace. Indian aircraft did not cross the LoC even during the 1999 Kargil war.
(Ref.: ’First Violation of Pakistani Airspace Since 1971 War: 3 Reasons Why This Strike is Bigger and Bolder Than 2016’, by Suhas Munshi, dtd. February 28 2019, at <> .)
220. Tensions between India and Pakistan, which have long been at odds over disputed territory in Kashmir, escalated in February [2019], when Pakistani militants attacked an Indian security convoy in the region. India retaliated by bombing a site in the northern Pakistani town of Balakot. What made the air strike unusual was that its target lay outside the swath of land in dispute—making it the first ever attack by a nuclear power against the undisputed sovereign territory of another nuclear power [emphasis added].
(Ref.: ’Is a new nuclear age upon us?’ by Nicholas L Miller and Vipin Narang, dtd. December 30 2019 at <> .)
221. Ref.: ’India, Pakistan threatened to unleash missiles at each other: sources’ by Sanjeev Miglani and Drazen Jorgic, dtd. March 17 2019, at <> .
222. Ref.: ’US pulled back India after Pak threat to hit back’ by Aamir Ghauri, dtd. March 5 2019, at <> .
223. Ref.: ’Pompeo played ‘essential role’ in de-escalating Indo-Pak tensions: State Dept’, dtd. March 6 2019, at <> .
224. Ref.: ’Remarks by President Trump Before Meeting with Vice Premier Liu He of the People’s Republic of China’, Oval Office, dtd. February 22 2019, at <> .
225. Ref.: ’Remarks by President Trump in Press Conference | Hanoi, Vietnam’, Hanoi, dtd. February 28 2019, at <> .
226. Pakistan’s prime minister pledged on Thursday [i.e. February 28] his country would release a captured Indian fighter pilot (as a goodwill gesture the next day), a move that could help defuse the most serious confrontation in two decades between the nuclear-armed neighbors over the disputed region of Kashmir.
Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement in an address to both houses of Parliament, saying he tried to reach his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Wednesday with a message that he wants to de-escalate tensions.
(Ref.: ’Pakistan says it will release Indian fighter pilot to ease tension’ by Munir Ahmed and Kathy Gannon of Associated Press, dtd. February 28 2019, at <> .)
227. Pakistan on Friday ‘as a goodwill gesture’ handed over to Indian authorities the captured Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as the nuclear-armed neighbours scaled back a confrontation that has prompted world powers to urge restraint.
(Ref.: ’Abhinandan walks home through Wagah’ by Muhammad Shahzad, dtd. March 01 2019, at <> .)
228. Ref.: ’With Balakot strike, India has called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff: Kanwal Sibal’ by Elizabeth Roche, dtd. March 4 2019, at <> .
229. Ref.: ’India has called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff twice: Ex-Army officers’, dtd. Oct 03 2019, at <> .
230. Ref.: ’Balakot Air Strikes: Calling Pakistan’s Nuclear Bluff Was Long Due’ by Vishnu Prakash, dtd. March 4 2019, at <> .
231. Ref.: ’General Manoj Mukund Naravane Takes Charge As New Army Chief’ by Vishnu Som, dtd. December 31 2019, at <> .
232. Ref.: ’We have called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff: Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane’ by Sandeep Unnithan, dtd. January 4 2020, at <> .
233. Ref.: ’ India reserves right to preemptively strike at sources of terror, says Army Chief’, PTI, dtd. December 31 2019, at <> .
234. Ref.: ’Had Pakistan not returned Abhinandan it would have been ‘qatal ki raat’: PM Modi’ by Express News Service, Patan, dtd. April 21 2019, at <> .
Also ref: ’PM Shri Narendra Modi addresses public meeting in Patan, Gujarat : 21.04.2019’ at

and ’Narendra Modi’s remarks on India’s nuclear capability highly unfortunate: Pakistan’, PTI, Islamabad, April 22 2019, at <> .
235. In 2002, President Pervez Musharraf stated that, "nuclear weapons are aimed solely at India," and would only be used if "the very existence of Pakistan as a state" was at stake.
(Ref.: ’PAKISTAN: Nuclear’, dtd. November 2019, at <> .)
236. There is little evidence, however, that Indian and Pakistani leaders see much of a problem. Not only did Modi campaign on his handling of the crisis and his willingness to commit a “night of murder,” he also promised to strip Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status. He has now taken that step, prompting what may begin yet another cycle of violence in South Asia. Modi and Khan probably believe that their handling of past crises has been deft, but we now know that even the best American and Soviet leaders during the Cold War made serious mistakes. Like Kennedy and Khrushchev, Modi and Khan may be confident they can approach the brink of nuclear catastrophe, but pull back in time. Their success may depend on whether they realize how close that edge really is.
(Ref.: ’“Night of Murder”: On the Brink of Nuclear War in South Asia’ at <> .)
237. In 1985, Pakistan crossed the threshold of weapons-grade uranium production, and by 1986 it is thought to have produced enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. Pakistan continued advancing its uranium enrichment program, and according to Pakistani sources, the nation acquired the ability to carry out a nuclear explosion in 1987.
(Ref.: ’Pakistan Nuclear Weapons: A Brief History of Pakistan’s Nuclear Program’ at <> .)
238. For the same conclusion, from a somewhat different standpoint: ’Why the Buddha never smiled’ by S Srinivasan, dtd. May 12 2011, at <> .
239. Ref.: ’India Goes Nuclear : Tracing the Trajectory’ by Sukla Sen, Peace Now, Special Issue, CNDP - 2nd National Convention (November 2004). p. 21, at <> .
240. Ref.: ’Even Pakistan’s growth rate is ahead of India’s’ by Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar, dtd. September 3 2019, at <> .
241. Ref.: ’South Asia’, ’Overview’ at <> .
242. Ref.: ’Pakistan downed an Indian jet — but the economy is the real battleground’ by Ali Hasanain, dtd. September 26 2019, at <> .
243. Ref.: ’India’ by Prerna Gupta and M. V. Ramana, ’Assuring destruction forever: 2020 edition’, at <https://www.reachingcriticalwill.or...> .
244. Ref.: ’Pakistan’ by Zia Mian, ’Assuring destruction forever: 2020 edition’, at <https://www.reachingcriticalwill.or...> .
245. Ref.: ’CNDP Statement on the ASAT Test’, dtd. March 29 2019, at <> .
246. Ref.: ’Will India’s anti-satellite weapon test spark an arms race in space?’ by Malcolm Davis, dtd. March 29 2019, at <> .
247. Ref.: ’Pakistan expresses ‘grave concern’ over Indian space weapons test’ by Asad Hashim, dtd. April 3 2019, at <> .
248. Ref.: ’Raksha Mantri [i.e. Defence Minister] Shri Rajnath Singh Unveils A-Sat Missile Model in DRDO Bhawan [Building] in Presence of Shri Gadkari’, dtd. November 9 2020, at <> .
249. Ref.: ’India-US sign BECA: Two countries to share more intelligence; Why is it important?’ by Huma Siddiqui, dtd. October 28 2020, at <> .
250. Ref.: ’India, US ink military pact, set stage for expanding collaboration’, dtd. October 27 2020, at <> .
251. Ref.: ’India, US sign military data pact; China slams Pompeo’s visit’, dtd, October 28 2020, at <> .
252. Turning our focus to India, the factors which contribute to stability in India’s foreign policies are:
strategic independence sought in foreign policy and practices as highlighted by the fact that despite giving up non-alignment as policy tool, India has been careful not to be identified with any camp or alliances directed towards a third country or group of countries;
(Ref.: ’Changing dynamics of India’s foreign policy’ by Amb (Retd) Debnath Shaw, dtd. August 23 2019, at <> .)
So very cogently put.
It’s rather remarkable that this was delivered by a former Indian diplomat just the last year and is (still) on the official website of the Ministry of External Affairs.
253. The purpose for India to move closer to the US is to increase India’s leverage in negotiating border issues with China. India is China’s neighbor and its strength is weaker than China’s. Will New Delhi stand at the forefront of the US anti-China line? It is not that silly. US-India cooperation may make China unhappy, but it will not exert psychological pressure that could force China to make strategic concessions.
(Ref.: ’Pompeo’s last foreign tour will be no victory lap: Global Times editorial’, dtd. October 25 2020, at <> .)
Being a quasi-official assessment-cum-message from China itself, this one, obviously, deserves special attention.
254. India is expected to sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA) and the Maritime Information Sharing Technical Agreement (MISTA) protocols on Tuesday during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi. These two landmark agreements will not only help both India and The US to meet the growing Chinese military might in a better way but will also help in establishing The Quad as a future deterrent power block. The Quad is a proposed alliance between The US, India, Japan and Australia.
(Ref: ’BECA, MITSA Deals Between India-US Will Strengthen Strategic Alliance, Challenge China’s Growing Military Ambitions’, dtd. October 27 2020, at <> .)
255. “The 1950s and 1960s tell us that shared concerns about China as a challenge can fuel a close US-India partnership. But for that to be sustainable they have to agree on the urgency and nature of the challenge and the approach to tackle it.”
(Ref.: ’INDIA-CHINA STANDOFF: MODI AND THE NEHRUVIAN TRAP’ by Seema Sirohi, dtd. October 19 2020, at <> .)
256. Ref.: ’India shouldn’t feel alone, or left to fend for itself : US Sec of State Pompeo tells Shekhar Gupta’, dtd. October 27 2020, at

257. Ref.: ’UN treaty banning nuclear weapons set to enter into force in January’, dtd. October 25 2020, at <> .
258. The Treaty itself puts it thus as one of its raisons d’être: Mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha), as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons,
(Ref.: Ibid, p. 9.)
259. Ref.: ’6 AND 9 AUGUST 1945: HIROSHIMA / NAGASAKI’ at <> .
260. Op cit, p. 10.
261. U.S. officials, meanwhile, are actively lobbying states to withdraw their support for the treaty. A letter that accompanied a nonpaper listing U.S. concerns about the TPNW sent in October, stated that “[a]lthough we recognize your sovereign right to ratify or accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), we believe that you have made a strategic error and should withdraw your instrument of ratification or accession.”
The U.S. letter, which was delivered to a large number of states and was first reported by the Associated Press, claims that the five original nuclear powers and all of member of NATO “stand unified” in their opposition to the “potential repercussions” of the treaty. The U.S. nonpaper claims that the TPNW is “dangerously counterproductive” to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
(Ref.: ’Ban Treaty Set to Enter Into Force: ARMS CONTROL TODAY’ by Daryl G. Kimball, dtd. November 2020, at <> .)
262. In reality, the nuclear-armed states know that the TPNW, to paraphrase Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow at the treaty’s adoption, makes weapons that have always been immoral now also illegal. While we have much work to do in order to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons, if the nuclear-armed states are this afraid of the prohibition treaty, we know we’re on the right track.
(Ref.: ’Nuclear Weapons Have Always Been Immoral. Now They’re Illegal.’ by Ray Acheson, dtd. October 27 2020, at <> .)

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