Pakistan Says India Didn't Attack Because Of Its Nuclear Deterrent

By T.C. Malhotra | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

New Delhi ( - The leaders of India and Pakistan have both been speaking about the recent military standoff between their countries - but they have very different opinions of what prevented that standoff from spilling over into outright war.

According to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, India hesitated to attack Pakistan during the crisis of recent weeks because of Islamabad's nuclear capability.

His Indian counterpart attributed the easing of tensions to American diplomatic intervention.

Speaking to nuclear scientists and engineers Monday night, Musharraf said India's reluctance to attack was "testimony to the fact that strategic balance exists in South Asia and that Pakistan's conventional and nuclear capability together deter aggression."

The military ruler repeated his view that Pakistan does not want war with India, favoring a peaceful resolution of issues between the two neighbors.

Key among those issues are the long and bloody territorial dispute over Kashmir and Pakistan's support for terrorists fighting Indian rule in part of the territory. Attacks on India's Parliament last December and on Indian soldiers and their families in Kashmir last month fueled tensions between the two.

Fears that those tensions would erupt in open warfare between the traditional foes - which since 1998 have been declared nuclear powers - prompted diplomatic pressure from the U.S., Britain and other countries.

Indian Foreign Office spokeswoman Nirupama Rao responded icily to Musharraf's statements, accusing him of "irresponsibility, loose talk and undiluted hostility towards India.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has also been talking about the nuclear issue in recent days.

"The nation was prepared for war," the Hindi language newspaper Dainik Jagran quoted him Monday as saying.

"Our forces on the border were awaiting orders. Their morale was also high. India was prepared for an atomic war but we were confident that our neighbour would not commit such an act of madness," he said.

But the Indian premier said tensions had eased followed an undertaking by Musharraf - given to visiting deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage - to put a permanent end to incursions by Pakistan-based militants into Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The U.S. ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, told a U.S.-India Business Council gathering Monday the terrorist attacks on Indian targets which prompted the recent standoff were as serious for the Bush administration as last September's attacks in New York and Washington.

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