Former United States secretary of state Mike Pompeo wrote in a book (right) published on Tuesday that India and Pakistan came close to a nuclear war in 2019 and that American intervention prevented escalation.
"I do not think the world properly knows just how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear conflagration in February 2019," the likely future US presidential contender wrote in Never Give An Inch, his memoir of his time as Mr Donald Trump's top diplomat and earlier CIA chief.
India in February 2019 broke precedent by launching airstrikes inside Pakistani territory after blaming a terrorist group there for a suicide bombing that killed 41 Central Reserve Police Force troops in Kashmir.
India shot down an F-16 during an aerial combat in which Pakistan shot down an Indian warplane and captured its pilot.
Mr Pompeo, who was then in Hanoi for a summit between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said he was woken up by an urgent call from a senior Indian official.
"He believed the Pakistanis had begun to prepare their nuclear weapons for a strike. India, he informed me, was contemplating its own escalation," Mr Pompeo wrote.
"I asked him to do nothing and give us a minute to sort things out."
Mr Pompeo said US diplomats convinced both sides to stand down.
"No other nation could have done what we did that night to avoid a horrible outcome," Mr Pompeo wrote.
Mr Pompeo, who wrote that Pakistan "probably enabled" the Kashmir attack, said he spoke to "the actual leader of Pakistan", then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in an allusion to the weakness of civilian governments. Mr Pompeo at the time publicly defended India's right to act.
Indo-Asian News Service