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Pompeo says US prevented nuclear war between India and Pakistan

WASHINGTON: Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a book published on Tuesday that India and Pakistan were on the verge of nuclear war in 2019 but that US intervention avoided an escalation.

“I don’t think the world really understands how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to escalating into a nuclear inferno in February 2019,” the likely future presidential candidate writes in “Never Give an Inch,” his memoir of his tenure as Donald Trump’s top diplomat and CIA director.

India broke the precedent in February 2019 when it launched airstrikes within Pakistani territory after accusing a militant organization there of a suicide attack that killed 41 Indian paramilitary soldiers in the volatile Kashmir region. Pakistan shot down an Indian fighter plane and captured the pilot.

Pompeo, who was in Hanoi for a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, claimed a top Indian official woke him up with an urgent call. “He assumed the Pakistanis had begun to prepare their nuclear weapons for a strike. “He informed me that India was considering its own escalation,” Pompeo wrote. “I told him not to do anything and to give us a minute to figure things out,” Pompeo explained.

According to Pompeo, US diplomats persuaded both India and Pakistan that neither was planning to go nuclear. “No other country could have done what we did that night to prevent a terrible catastrophe,” Pompeo wrote.

Pompeo says he spoke with then-Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa after writing that Pakistan “probably enabled” the Kashmir attack.

Pompeo publicly defended India’s right to intervene at the time. Pompeo praised India in his book and, unlike officials in New Delhi, made no secret of his ambition to form an alliance with the South Asian democracy “to combat Chinese aggression.”

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