India came this close to a decisive strike against Pakistan’s Atomic Program!!!
To understand India’s policy in regard to Pakistan’s Atomic Weapon Program in the 1980s some background is needed. In 1980 Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi came back from the lowest point in perhaps her life, just some years before she had been arrested for election fraud, and though she did not do jail time, the allegations had led to her being sidelined from public life for a time. She lost her eldest son Sanjay Gandhi in a plane crash which even today remains suspicious, yet she won the election by a landslide, as the Indian Public dispelled the myth that her connection to them was broken by the emergency of 1975. The 1970s had largely been her decade in India, as the largest military victory in modern Indian National History had been obtained by the definitive defeat of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh in 1971. She had ended a genocide against Hindus, Sikhs and Intellectuals in East Pakistan, and she had done so with Pakistan being supported by the U.S. and Britain. Throughout 1970, she had tried to build some sort of understanding with the U.S. and Britain, but they continued to support Pakistan and deny the genocide. In what is today known as the Blood Telegram it would become clear that they did indeed know what the Pakistani Army was doing in East Pakistan. In 1974, India would detonate an atomic device, and the balance of power completely shifted in India’s favour in South Asia. This event was not looked upon favourably at the time by several powers in the world.
India would achieve food self-sufficiency just around 1975, and then came sudden allegations of election fraud against the sitting Prime Minister. Raj Narayan would push this through the Allahabad Court, and have 1971, election overturned. The judgement required her to give up her parliamentary seat, and this indirectly affected her position as Prime Minister. But, according to the interpretation Raj Narayan pushed, she could not be Prime Minister since a requirement was to hold a parliamentary seat. Yet, looking at the environment of that time, Indira Gandhi would have won the 1971 election without any rigging. Much of the attempt of bringing her down was geopolitical and not because of India’s domestic environment. The nation would become paralyzed as professional agitators sat themselves down in central Delhi. The idea of removing the sitting Prime Minister was destroying the national economy. Finally, a state of emergency was declared and political opponents along with agitators were arrested and in many cases jailed. The reaction is viewed by many today as P.M. Indira Gandhi holding on to power and an abuse of it. Yet at the time many informed circles viewed this action as preventing a foreign-backed coup toppling of a government which had made India into an atomic power and changed the balance of power in South Asia. Today, this latter view seems to be quite forgotten in India and even sidelined.
In 1977 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi would lift the emergency and elections were held. She was defeated, and the Janata Party formed a new Government. They attempted to balance India’s relationship with the U.S.S.R. and move closer to the U.S., but at the end, this government went down in history as removing I.B.M. and Coca-Cola from India and reopening relations with China. The reality was that the Janata Government did want to abandon self-reliance and this factor made opening the Indian Economy a far off idea for them as well. Changing of the paradigm in the balance of power equations was such that the U.S. would continue to support Pakistan and the U.S. would economically open to China. The total reversal of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s policies really did not benefit India at this juncture. In fact, there really were few options other than to follow the ideas of national sufficiency and continuing the unique relationship India had with the Soviet Union. Abandoning or greatly reducing India’s Atomic Weapon capability simply could not be done, as the U.S. wanted this concession at the time, which could not be met.
With P.M. Indira Gandhi back, Pakistan had used the three years in her absence to in essence continue ahead with their atomic program without any real fear of being hindered by India. There were discussions where it seemed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wanted to stop Pakistan’s Atomic Weapon Program. The idea that China would come in to retaliate against this move was an important consideration. India did not have the ability to launch Atomic Weapons against China in 1980 if a full-scale war broke out after such a move. This lack of ability created difficulty in taking action. Another dilemma existed and this was the near certainty of U.S. deliveries of F-16 Fighter Jets to Pakistan. By 1981, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was largely convinced that Pakistan was only months away from testing an Atomic Device. In February 1981, it was even discussed that India could counter a Pakistani Atomic Test, with a larger Indian 40 Kiloton detonation. The months passed and nothing occurred. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had more time to mull the idea. The concept of Israeli cooperation in such a task was never considered a probable plan. The logistics would have been nearly impossible at the time to work out.
The fact is that India would counter the F-16’s Pakistan received from the U.S. with more capable MiG-29’s slated for delivery in 1984 and beyond. The idea of stopping the ability of Pakistan’s ability to make Atomic Weapons had evolved into taking the ability away for a considerable period of time. It was understood that India could do so by taking key components out of Pakistan’s program, but this would have to be done quickly and Indian Fighter Jets would have to return to India just as rapidly. The C.I.A. at this time seems to have understood this thinking, and declassified documents show this.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had moved towards an understanding that taking away Pakistan’s ability and know-how to build weapons could not be taken away, but the ability to actually make weapons could be greatly reduced. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had largely been responsible for the creation of India’s Intelligence gathering service known as R.A.W. in 1968. Without a doubt, her formulation of a plan would rely on accurate intelligence. India in 1984 or 1985 could have carried out a plan to disrupt Pakistan’s Atomic Program, as the capability to offset Pakistan’s F-16 edge would have been taken away at this point. In 1984, India’s Air Force was assessed to be able to take successfully overpower the Pakistani Air Force and at the same time disrupt any attempt by China to attack or interfere. India had Asia’s most powerful Air Force outside of the Soviet Union. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi lost her life on October 31, 1984, in an assignation, which plunged India into a period of riots, communal attacks, and saw Punjab enter a decade of turmoil, though Pakistan’s I.S.I. had already funnelled monies and arms to Indian separatists in Punjab before 1984, and violence ravaged the landscape which had known peace and communal harmony before this direct belligerent interference in the affairs of the Indian Union. After 1984, Pakistan’s Atomic Program moved ahead unabated. The C.I.A. accessed in 1985 that her Son, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had a near 50% chance of assignation while in office. In 1998, Pakistan would openly detonate an Atomic Device and become an Atomic Power. While the CIA seems to have paid close attention to what route India might take to thwart Pakistan’s Atomic Program, the same attention seems not have been paid to what the long term consequences would be in the reality of Pakistan’s atomic potential. At the same time, it seems not to have grasped the full nature of the Atomic state which had been created, the reality of today could have been very different.
Source:- Expensive Mind