Pakistan would have attacked India in 1998: Gohar Ayub Khan

April 18th, 2009 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, April 18 (IANS) Pakistan would have launched a full-fledged air attack had India attempted to prevent its 1998 nuclear tests, maverick politician and former foreign minister Gohar Ayub Khan says in a new book.
In the book titled “Testing Times as Foreign Minister”, Khan claims that in the event of an attack by India on the nuclear test site at Chagai in Balochistan, the Pakistan Air Force would have launched attacks on pre-designated targets in India, The News reported Saturday.

Pakistan had conducted its nuclear tests May 28, 1998 in retaliation to those India conducted on the 11th and 13th of the same month.

The son of former Pakistani military dictator Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Gohar Ayub Khan had created a stir in 2005 by claiming his father had bought India’s war plans for the 1965 conflict from an Indian brigadier for Rs.20,000.

The new book says that since Pakistan became a nuclear weapons state, the chances of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan seemed to be a very remote possibility.

However, a localised conflict, which is maintained within a certain threshold and does not lead to an open war, could not be ruled out in future.

In such a conflict, tactical nuclear weapons could be used on an army formation that had entered Pakistan was poised to cut some vital areas, Khan writes.

He also reveals he was refused permission for the Pakistan Air Force to “buzz” New Delhi in retaliation for the Indian Air Force’s MiG-25 spy planes breaking the sound barrier over Islamabad while flying at a height of 72,000 feet.

“We were busy in a parliamentary party meeting in the National Assembly presided over by the prime minister when a messenger informed me that Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroze wanted to speak to me. I went to the green line telephone (phone which scrambles conversations). He informed me that his fighters were ready to take off and enter India from three directions in retaliation to the IAF MIG-25Rs flight over Islamabad breaking the sound barrier at 72,000 ft a few days ago,” Khan writes.

“He wanted the prime minister’s approval. Which areas of India will you fly over, I asked and found that there was no population in their flight path. I suggested we must fly over Delhi. Get me the permission, said the air marshal.

“I went back to the committee room and informed the prime minister about the air marshal’s suggested flight path and my suggestions that we fly over Delhi. No need to do either, said the prime minister. I went back and informed the air marshal to stand down,” Khan writes.

He also laments that the Pakistan Air Force, citing high maintenance costs and non-availability of spares, had phased out its F-104 Starfighters, the only aircraft capable of taking on the MiG-25s.

“India had four MIG-25Rs for high altitude reconnaissance. These aircraft could climb up to 81,000 ft. Pakistan had no fighter interceptor to climb to such height nor any ground-to-air anti-aircraft missiles to shoot such a plane down. These MIG-25Rs had a free run over Pakistan’s vital installations.

“The PAF had the F-104 Starfighter which were designed to intercept high-flying (MiG-25s). They could go up to a height of 81,000 ft. These fighters had been phased out some years ago. The PAF knew that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had the MIG-25Rs and as such should have maintained some F-104 Starfighters to be used as interceptors.

“The high-cost to maintain them should have been overruled as some could have been cannibalised for parts. In any case, spare parts for the F-104 were easily available from some friendly countries,” Khan writes.

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