As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shook hands for 160 minutes and held an intensive talk on Tuesday, the signal was sent across detractors that both nations are on track to a serious reconsideration of their existing hostile ties.
But before the officials settle down to talks further, a top former White House official has dropped a mini bomb on the issue revealing that Pakistan had, in fact, planned to drop nuclear bomb on India during the 1999 Kargil War, when Sharif himself was the PM.
CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, who wrote an obituary for Sandy Berger who died of cancer on Wednesday, said Berger and another former national security advisor in the White House then had informed the then American President Bill Clinton about the Islamabad plans in their daily briefing on July 4, 1999, which coincided with the US Independence Day.
“The morning of the Fourth, the CIA wrote in its top-secret Daily Brief that Pakistan was preparing its nuclear weapons for deployment and possible use. The intelligence was very compelling. The mood in the Oval Office was grim… Sandy knew Clinton better than anyone, his natural inclination was to find a deal. This time, no deal was possible, it must be an unequivocal Pakistani climbdown. It worked. Sharif agreed to pull back his troops. 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. It was Berger’s finest hour,” he wrote.
Now that Sharif is back at the helm of affairs, it remains to be seen how far he will withstand the army’s pressure and seek to soothen ties with India when External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to visit Islamabad.