London: Pakistan could launch a nuclear strike on India within eight seconds, an army general boasted in 2001 in Islamabad, the Guardian reported Friday.
The warning is described in the latest volume of former British communications director Alastair Campbell’s diaries, The Burden of Power.
The general asked the then prime minister Tony Blair’s communications director to remind India of Pakistan’s nuclear capability amid fears in Islamabad that Delhi was “determined to take them out”.
Britain became so concerned about Pakistan’s threat that Blair’s senior foreign policy adviser, David Manning, later warned in a paper that Pakistan was prepared to “go nuclear”, the Guardian said.
The diaries start on the day of the 9/11 attacks and end with Campbell’s decision to stand down in August 2003 after the Iraq war.
The nuclear warnings came during a visit by Blair to the Indian subcontinent after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Campbell was told about the eight-second threat over a dinner in Islamabad Oct 5, 2001 hosted by Pervez Musharraf, then Pakistan’s president.
Campbell writes: “At dinner I was between two five-star generals who spent most of the time listing atrocities for which they held the Indians responsible, killing their own people and trying to blame ‘freedom fighters’.
“They were pretty convinced that one day there would be a nuclear war because India, despite its vast population and despite being seven times bigger, was unstable and determined to take them out.
“When the time came to leave, the livelier of the two generals asked me to remind the Indians: ‘It takes us eight seconds to get the missiles over,’ then flashed a huge toothy grin.”
Blair visited Pakistan less than a month after the 9/11 attacks as Britain and the US attempted to shore up support in Islamabad before the bombing of Afghanistan, which started Oct 7, 2001.