Bruce Riedel, a man specializing in raising controversies over South Asia, claimed earlier this week that Pakistan had prepared its nuclear weapons for deployment and possible use during the Kargil conflict. He made this bold claim in an obituary for Samuel Berger, the former National Security Advisor to President Clinton.

It was impossible for Pakistan to deploy a nuclear weapon because it did not have a nuclear warhead at the time and also lacked a delivery system. For all his expertise, Riedel proves his foolishness when he makes such far-fetched and unbelievable assertions.

In his book In The Line of Fire, Former President Pervez Musharraf clearly states that the Pakistani nuclear capability was not operational, and conducting a nuclear explosion did not mean that Pakistan had the operational capability of deploying and delivering a nuclear bomb across the border. Even the former Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh notes that there was no nuclear brinkmanship during Kargil.

Strategically, it made no sense for Pakistan to consider the use of nuclear weapons because even if Pakistan had the capability, which it did not, the situation did not demand deployment or contemplation for use. Feroz Khan in his book Eating Grass points out that there was less than a brigade involved in the fighting, which took place in a far-flung region of the country, so to consider escalating to the nuclear level from that is a very preposterous idea. In the same book the author states that General Khalid Kidwai, the man in charge of Pakistan’s nuclear assets at the time, dismissed the allegations pointing out the fact that he was not even in country. General Kidwai remarked, “Would I be sitting in Switzerland if nuclear weapons were being readied for deployments?”

Former DG ISPR General Rashid Qureshi says, “it is always the losing side, which has no other response available that may consider resorting to such extremes and Pakistan had its enemy by the throat. Our situation during the Kargil episode was of such advantage that we did not even consider deploying our air force let alone nuclear weapons. Therefore if anyone did consider such a mad response, it must have been the Indians.”

General Qureshi makes a very valid point. Barkha Dutt, a prominent Indian journalist writes in her new book, This Unquiet Land – Stories from India’s Fault Lines that the former Indian National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra said, Delhi considered the use of nuclear weapons during the conflict.

By successfully occupying mountaintop posts that looked down on the only highway that linked Indian occupied Kashmir to Ladakh, Pakistan had cornered India. A call intercepted by the Pakistan army recorded Indian commanders in Leh, the Capital of Ladakh, complaining to New Delhi that they had run out of wood to make coffins for their dead. Perhaps this led to their decision to prepare for a nuclear strike against Pakistan. But I feel that the Indians could have possibly lied about their willingness to escalate to the nuclear level so they could manipulate the Americans into putting pressure on Pakistan to back down.

For example Bruce writes that there was compelling intelligence that Pakistan was preparing to deploy nuclear weapons, we know this is not true, but perhaps the intelligence came from the Indians. Because according to Dutt, Mishra told her that the Indian Prime Minister at the time, Atal Behari Vajpayee wrote a secret letter to Clinton warning him that if he failed to convince Pakistan to retreat, then he would use “all means” available for a counterattack.

Pakistan did not have the technological capability to carry out a nuclear attack against India and it is very likely that neither did India. The only reason Vajpayee threatened to cross the line of control and use nuclear weapons must have been to put American pressure on Pakistan to withdraw, because he knew that otherwise no Indian military action could ever win back the lost posts.

Kargil is a very sour topic in India; the humiliating loss to Pakistan’s bravest is something they are never likely to forget. All of this noise by Bruce Riedel and Burkha Dutt is unwarranted given the current regional and global political environment.

It is time that Indians and their sympathizers in the West moved on. Their wrongful and misleading stories about what happened sixteen years ago in an isolated part of Kashmir takes away from the larger issues at hand, which are the illegal occupation of Kashmir and the oppression of the Kashmiri people.

Sandy Berger’s obituary aside, it seems that Bruce, Indians and some others are trying to give a spin to Kargil conflict and create a narrative that a limited conventional war is possible under nuclear overhang. If true, it is ridiculous and can has dangerous consequences.

Let us stop distracting ourselves with ridiculous and irrational stories, and start focusing on finding a peaceful solution to Kashmir, a solution that will give the people of Kashmir the right to determine their own future. Three wars fought over Kashmir in the last seventy years have clearly proven that military action is not the solution, for there to be lasting peace in Kashmir, it has to be a political solution.

Pakistan and India have democratically elected their leaders; it is now up to the people in both countries to demand that their leadership work with the other side in a diplomatic manner to resolve their outstanding disputes in Kashmir once and for all.

The writer is an assistant professor at NUST in Islamabad.

@umarwrites.