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India Will Wipe Off Pak, But At Cost Of 500 Million People

PTI 30 Sep 2009, 2:19:15 AM IST
PTI

In the event of Indo-Pak nuclear war, India will emerge as the ultimate winner after wiping off Pakistan, but lose up to 500 million of its own people, a book on former US President Bill Clinton's presidential years has claimed.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning author and historian Taylor Branch claimed that the Indian leaders had portrayed such a scenario in the event of an Indo-Pak nuclear war (during Kargil conflict in 1999) to the then US President Clinton.

The portion on nuclear warfare appears in the chapter titled 'Eight Missiles in Baghdad', in which the author of the book claims that Clinton told him that New Delhi would nuke Pakistan annihilating the entire country, if anyone in Islamabad triggered the nuclear bombs against it.

"The president first scribbled a note to himself that Strobb Talbott owed him a report on his recent trip to South Asia," Branch writes in his 700-page book 'The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President', referring to the taped conversations he had with Clinton in the White House.

Talbott, now president of the Brookings Institute, served under the Clinton Administration during 1993-2001.

The book, which hit the stores today, has claimed to give an insight into the eight years of Clinton's presidency, which has not been heard before.

 "He called this the one region on the globe facing a serious threat of nuclear war between two nations, India and Pakistan. Their mutual enmity was historically constant, yet chillingly erratic," Branch writes.

 "In private, he (Clinton) disclosed, Indian officials spoke of knowing roughly how many nuclear bombs the Pakistanis possessed, from which they calculated that a doomsday nuclear volley would kill 300 to 500 million Indians while annihilating all 120 million Pakistanis. The Indians would thus claim "victory" on the strength of several hundred million countrymen they figured would be left over,"he writes.

"But on the other side, the Pakistanis insisted that their rugged mountain terrain would shield more survivors than the exposed plains of India. "They really talk that way," Clinton sighed. "We have bad relations with both of them," he continued," Branch writes in his book.

Based on the series of conversations he had with Clinton during his presidential years, Branch says: "Locked in their arms race, India was furious that the United States had agreed to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan, and Pakistan was no less enraged that the United States refused to deliver the planes years after receiving payment."

Such transfers remained blocked since 1990 under the Pressler Amendment, which prohibited military sales to any country found to be developing nuclear weapons in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"Even worse for the Pakistanis, said Clinton, US law obliged his administration to collect storage payments from Pakistan on its impounded F-16s gathering rust in American custody," Branch said.

"The president hoped to devise a rebate or remedy for these grossly unfair charges, which he called a diplomatic insult, but he saw no cure for the larger strategic impasse over South Asia," he said.

Clinton said the United States was trying to hold the line on a treaty that fed hostility and opportunism.  "If we didn't try to enforce the ban on nuclear proliferation, plenty of countries would rush to sell the required technologies on our example," Clinton was quoted as saying.

"As long as we did try, however, we would draw upon ourselves some of the extraordinary venom between India and Pakistan," Clinton was quoted.  Branch wrote, Clinton said this issue demanded persistence. "His impression was that Talbott's trip turned up little of promise, but he wanted the details," the book said.

During the Kargil war in 1999, Bill Clinton was ready to "jump on a plane" to prevent the conflict's escalation into full fledged nuclear warfare as Pakistan had almost prepared itself to nuke India fearing military defeat, a book which hit the stores today has claimed.

 Taylor Branch claimed in his book that at the peak of Kargil warfare, Clinton told him that Pakistan sneaked its soldiers across the Line of Control as part of its strategy to escalate tension with India and thus gain international attention.

 "Clinton surprised me about Kashmir... He said skirmishes there were much more serious than reported," Branch writes in his 700-page book.  "If they (India and Pakistan) called tonight, and said I could end this thing by flying over there, I would have no choice but to jump on the plane," Clinton was quoted as saying in the book.

 "There is no greater responsibility for me than to reduce conflicts that threaten nuclear war, and this one certainly does," Clinton said.  Branch says that during one of those conversations, Clinton told him that "only four months ago, the leaders of India and Pakistan had embarked on a startling peace pilgrimage, worthy of Gandhi, riding trains and buses to meet for peace talks near their border in Punjab."

They pledged jointly to end the festering dispute over Kashmir, which had triggered two of their three wars since partition in 1947, the then US President told his historian.

"This new crisis snatched fear from hope, showing how swiftly politics can change. Since May, said the President, Pakistan had sneaked military units across Kashmir's de facto Line of Control into mountain redoubts as high as eighteen thousand feet to shell Indian outposts in the populated valley below," Branch writes.

"Euphoria vanished, and the governments seethed with intrigue. Civilians and generals disputed each other on both sides. Elements within Pakistan had engineered the covert war to attract international mediation, hoping to realise the popular demands of Kashmir's heavy Muslim majority for independence or annexation by Pakistan," the book says quoting Clinton.

 "Failing mediation, Pakistan's zealots prepared nuclear attacks to stave off annihilation by India's conventional forces. India's zealots prepared nuclear attacks to preempt Pakistan, or retaliate, or defy any mandate for India to weaken its legal rule over Kashmir," Branch quoted Clinton as saying.

 "Clinton said the current intelligence reports detailed by far the gravest alarm of his presidency. He could not say more, even on these restricted tapes, but Kashmir was far from over as a threat," the book says. PTI