A former top White House official claimed Islamabad thought of using nuclear weapons during the 1999 Kargi War leading to irreparable losses in Indian and Pakistan.
At the peak of the Kargil War, when the Pakistan Army suffered huge reverses, the politicos in Islamabad considered using nukes to change the course of the war, according to sources.
On the morning of 4 July, 1999, the CIA, in its top-secret daily briefing to former President Bill Clinton, informed the US president that, Pakistan was preparing to use nuclear weapons, Bruce Riedel, who worked in White House’s National Security Council, said. This was before Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif was to meet Clinton. Faced with global ignominy and the prospect of an imminent defeat, Sharif sought Clinton’s help to end the war.
“The intelligence was compelling. The mood in the Oval Office was grim,” Bruce Riedel, among those present at the Clinton-Sharif meeting, claimed.
Riedel, an ex-CIA analyst, made the revelations in an obituary he wrote for Sandy Berger, former National Security Advisor to Clinton, who died of cancer on 1 December.
“Berger urged President Clinton to hear out Sharif, but to be firm. Since Pakistan started this crisis, it must end it sans any compensation. The President had to make it clear to Sharif that only a Pak withdrawal will prevent tensions from escalating,” he wrote.
“It worked. Sharif agreed to pull back. It later cost him his job: The army ousted him in a coup and he spent a decade in exile in Saudi Arabia. But the risk of a nuclear exchange in South Asia was averted,” wrote Riedel.
Meanwhile, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Taylor Branch wrote that, Clinton believed that Kargil was a close call. He claimed so in a new book based on secretly-taped conversations with him.
The Indian view, meanwhile, was in case of a nuclear war, it could wipe off Pakistan, but lose up to 500 million of its own people, Branch had claimed in his book titled, ‘The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President’.