‘India felt it would win nuclear war with Pakistan’

Bill Clinton says India had calculated that a Pak nuke hit could kill 500 million Indians, while Indian nukes would kill everyone in Pakistan.

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‘India felt it would win nuclear war with Pakistan’


In the event of a nuclear war with Pakistan, Indian leaders had predicted a bizarre victory, according to former US president Bill Clinton.

Indian officials had calculated that while 300 million to 500 million of their countrymen would die if Pakistani nukes hit India, all 120 million Pakistanis would be annihilated in a tit-for-tat Indian strike, Clinton is quoted as saying in a book.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Taylor Branch’s new book, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, which goes on sale this week, has an unguarded Clinton venting about Indian and Pakistani leaders’ so-called willingness to threaten the death of millions in their standoff over nuclear arms.

“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 [million] to 500 million Indians while annihilating all 120 million Pakistanis. The Indians would thus claim ‘victory’,” Branch has quoted Clinton as saying. 

New Delhi is likely to be furious with the observation, which portrays it as a government willing to play fast and loose with its citizens lives to notch up a bizarre win against Pakistan.

Clinton had slapped sanctions on India and Pakistan over the tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998. His successor George Bush lifted those sanctions after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks as a reward, particularly for Pakistan, for offering to support Washington’s pursuit of Osama bin Laden.

Branch’s 700-page book is the result of his access to Clinton, in 79 sessions, during the two terms of his presidency from 1993 to 2001.

In an interview with USA Today, Branch said Clinton, who had read the manuscript, expressed concern about some details in the book. Branch said he believed Clinton “was nervous” about the book’s publication but had not asked for changes.

The Internet is abuzz with a smashed Boris Yeltsin anecdote in the book. Clinton recalled getting a security alert in 1995 that the secret service had found a whisky-tanked Yeltsin, in his underwear, teetering outside Blair House on Pennsylvania Avenue and trying to hail a taxi.

 A longtime-friend, Branch quizzes Clinton on his political passions, his marriage and picks at the scabs of the Monica Lewinsky affair. One night in August 1999, six months after Clinton had survived the Senate impeachment trial, Clinton told Branch the Lewinsky affair began because “I cracked; I just cracked.”

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