2002 - When India-Pakistan Nuclear War Became A Possibility

India, Pakistan, Nuclear War, 2002, Uri Attacks, Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Military, Social Media, News
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On 18th September 2016, a nation stood in solidarity against a fidayeen terrorist attack on an Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir. There was outrage and anger over the media and rightly so. The attack had been the deadliest in the last two decades in Kashmir. There were calls, from social media to certain news anchors calling for stringent action against Pakistan. Even military solution was discussed.

While it is too early to rule things out from consideration, but if there is anything that can be ruled out at its earliest, it is a military escalation, because it would be meaningless to incur costs and risks involved.

The Space Rock That Almost Sent Us Back to Stone Age

Almost all of us have known or read about the military stand-off between India and Pakistan that began after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. What is less known that an incident occurred in some other part of the world which could have been devastating for the region had it not been a lucky geographical incident.

On 6th June 2002, an asteroid exploded in the Earth’s upper atmosphere over the Mediterranean region. Known as the Eastern Mediterranean incident, the energy release from the explosion was estimated to be about 12 Kiloton – equivalent to the blast that destroyed Hiroshima.

The asteroid had disintegrated in an air burst explosion – the other such explosions being the Tunguska asteroid burst and the Chelyabinsk meteor.

At that time, India and Pakistan were in a military stand-off. On 13th December 2001, the Indian Parliament was attacked by terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. This was followed by a military build-up by both sides, including the moving of ballistic missiles, heavy militarization of the borders, and tensions were high.

Had the asteroid, at that time of high tension when both sides looked poised for another strong military confrontation, exploded over the Indian subcontinent, it would have been detected as a nuclear attack by both the sides, and as a consequence, both sides could have launched their nuclear missiles at each other. It is sheer luck that saved us from millions of deaths and the subcontinent becoming a hell-scape of sterile land, radiation and undrinkable water.

As luck would have it, the explosion was safely away in the Mediterranean and the two sides did not go on the course of apocalyptic destruction.

Which brings us back to today.

Measured Response

The way forward for India would be to be carefully consider various options beside a military escalation. There is nothing that would be hailed by the Pakistan Army more than an overreaction by India. 

Title image: orientalreview

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