iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 22, 2012
Although National Security Advisor Shiv Shanker Menon shied away from naming the countries that tried thrice to nuclear blackmail New Delhi, the nuclear establishment here has revealed that Pakistan twice explicitly threatened to use nuclear devices against India while the American threat was more of implicit nature during the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

Menon talked about nuclear blackmail at a global disarmament seminar on Tuesday.

Top government sources said Pakistan threatened to nuke India in 1987 during large scale Indian Army mobilisation under then General K Sundarji for war game 'Operation Brasstacks' in the Rajasthan deserts. The war game conducted from November 1986 to March 1987, saw Pakistan Army and Air Force mobilisation in response by then President Zia-ul-Haq.

In an interview to journalist Kuldip Nayar in January 1987, Pak nuke scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan said, "Nobody can undo Pakistan... We are here to stay. Be clear that we shall use the bomb if our existence is threatened." The threat, Indian officials say, was conveyed through diplomatic and other channels.

The second time India was subjected to N-blackmail when then Pak PM Benazir Bhutto sent her foreign minister Lt Gen Sahabzada Yaqub Khan to India on January 21, 1990 to pressurise New Delhi on Kashmir issues.

With Kashmir separatist movement at its peak, Khan told his Indian counterpart IK Gujral that "war clouds would hover over the sub-continent if timely action was not taken."

While these two threats were direct, the US under Richard Nixon administration gave India an implicit threat by moving the USS Enterprise, world's first nuclear- powered carrier, into Bay of Bengal on December 11, 1971 during India-Pakistan war with collapse of Dhaka being imminent. India, however, did not budge and the war ended with a decisive victory for New Delhi on December 16, 1971.

Though the West was carried away with Pak nuke flashpoint theory during 1999 Kargil war, Indian establishment is firm that such a situation never arose.