Pakistan had with a "heavy heart" informed the US of its May 1998 nuclear tests that it had conducted in retaliation to India's tests the same month, former foreign minister Gohar Ayub Khan says in his new book.
"Having exhausted all options and left with no choice, we have in our supreme national interest decided to exercise the nuclear option. This decision, which I have taken with a heavy heart, was necessitated by the imperatives of self-defence and to deter aggression against sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of our country," then prime minister Nawaz Sharif said in his letter to then US president Bill Clinton.
The letter is reproduced in Khan's book "Testing Times as Foreign Minister", The News said Saturday.
Sharif wrote: "While I was deeply appreciative of your personal understanding of our security concerns, the overall international response to India's crossing of the nuclear threshold was regrettably deferential, bordering on acquiescence. We saw a familiar pattern whereby India's incremental steps on the nuclear and ballistic ladder had only generated pressures and even punitive actions against Pakistan."
The letter begins by saying "...our telephonic conversations in the past fortnight convinced me of your sincerity and your genuine concern for Pakistan's security and the stability of the region".
"The overt nuclear weaponisation of India has created a strategic imbalance, emboldening Indian leadership to hold out threats of nuclear blackmail against Pakistan and aggression across the line of control in Kashmir," Sharif wrote.
"At this critical juncture, at which our very life and existence are at stake, the people of Pakistan were unanimous in demanding that we seek to rectify the strategic imbalance resulting from nuclear weaponisation by India.
"For more than twenty years, Pakistan advocated in all earnest the goal of nuclear non-proliferation," the letter added.
Pakistan had conducted its nuclear tests May 28, 1998 after India did so on the 11th and 13th of the same month.
The son of former Pakistani military dictator Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Gohar Ayub Khan had created a stir in 2005 by claiming his father had bought India's war plans for the 1965 conflict from an Indian brigadier for Rs 20,000.