A veiled threat by India to use nuclear weapons or cross the Line of Control to flush out terrorists at the height of the 1999 Kargil war may have nudged then US President Bill Clinton to put pressure on Pakistan to back down.
The revelation has been made in television journalist Barkha Dutt’s book This Unquiet Land – Stories from India’s Fault Lines.
In a letter to Clinton in the middle of June 1999, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee referred to the Pakisani intruders and said, “One way or the other, we will get them out”.
The letter was delivered by principal secretary and key aide, Brajesh Mishra, to senior US officials in Geneva, where Clinton was addressing an International Labour Organisation meeting. Mishra revealed this to Dutt a few weeks before he passed away.
In the book, Dutt writes the letter never spelt out what options India was considering but the subtext was all bets were off. Mishra told her, “Crossing the LoC was not ruled out, nor was the use of nuclear weapons.”
Had the Americans asked him a direct question, Mishra said he would not have expanded on what it meant but believed the correspondence got Clinton actively involved in the conflict –including personal intervention to pressurize Pakistan to withdraw.
Clinton also sent a top military official, Anthony Zinni, to Pakistan who told its then military chief Pervez Musharraf: “If you don’t pull back, you are going to bring war and nuclear annihilation down on your own country.”
‘Did PM meet Sharif?’
The Congress on Wednesday sought to know from the government if PM Narendra Modi had a meeting with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Saarc summit in Kathmandu last year as mentioned in Barkha’s book.
“Did the PM have a meeting with Pakistan PM? If yes, why did his government keep it a secret? Was it for image? Optics? 56-inch-chest or for political deliverables?” asked party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi.