Thursday, July 06, 2006


Nawaz Sharif has apparently made a statement that Musharraf was planning a nuclear attack against India during Kargil, and that this fact was told to him by Clinton. [Hat tip: Gaurav] While I find both these premises to be possible in theory, I would have to see both of them validated from independent sources to trust them.

In fact, both premises may turn out to be totally misguided.

There has always been a dangerous disconnect between the polity and the military in Pakistan's history and this by itself points to the possible verity of the former fact. However, the mere fact that nuclear silos were moved from one station to another signifies nothing concrete. In fact, the silos could have been moved precisely to avoid their destruction by a possible preventive Indian air attack. At the very least, the silos could have been moved only to create an aura of threat, a standard strategy in nuclear deterrence. One of the motives for such an action is precisely to provoke the enemy into thinking that a nuclear attack is going to take place, thus giving your own side a good pretext to now launch some kind of preemptive attack. So there are several possible explanations for this action under Musharraf's supervision.

As for Clinton telling Sharif about this, again, Clinton could simply have reported what intelligence told him. He could have thought of all the above explanations too. This wouldn't have led him to think necessarily that Musharraf was planning to launch nuclear missiles against India, an action that I personally think would have been extremely unlikely on Musharraf's part. Musharraf knew about India's superiority in both conventional as well as nuclear forces. He also craved power. It seems foolhardy for him to have thought of engaging in such an action. At the very least, Clinton should certainly get the benefit of doubt here.

The general point about the US promoting self interests under the guise of spreading democracy is quite naturally well taken though.

I don't know why Sharif is making this statement right now; maybe it could have been true, or maybe he just wants to stir up controversy. Truth is, what does he have to lose in discrediting a former general who ousted him from power?
But in any case, his current statements, in the absence of further proof, prove nothing.


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