South Asia is considered as one of the most explosive region in the world where two nuclear powers are situated. There is a continuing hostility between the two nuclear powers and had fought three wars but there is still a potential threat of future atomic war between the two powers owning to some unresolved disputes. India planned several times to attack Pakistan’s nuclear reactor at Kahota, where Pakistan’s uranium enrichment program was lunched in early 1976 under the supervision of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan better known as the Khan Research Laboratories (K.R.L). Pakistan threatened them back of destroying their’s nuclear facilities, if Kahota would attacked. In fact, Pakistan’s nuclear program and evident progress in the nuclear field was reactive in nature owning to the covert Indian intentions to build an atomic bomb.
Before going to discuss Indian’s dirty plan to attack Kahota in 1983-84, it is fair to discuss the Indian and Pakistan nuclear program. India has developed a very strong nuclear infrastructure and immense nuclear program with the target to protect the interest of the country as a regional nuclear power. However the most vital event took place in 1970s which changed the whole scenario was Indian explosive test named Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (P.N.E). The primary objective of Indian nuclear program became obvious especially by mid 1980s when they worked to build thermonuclear or hydrogen bomb.
As far as Pakistan’s nuclear program was concerned, it began in 1950s when government created an Atomic Energy Committee with the aim to prepare plans for peaceful use of atomic energy. Unlike India, Pakistan had no clear nuclear policy due to multiple reasons including immature nuclear program, political upheavals, lack of competent leadership etc. Some of the political leaders had the intentions to use nuclear energy for peaceful aims while others favored the idea to develop an atomic bomb.
The decade of 1960s proved a watershed in Pakistan’s nuclear policy when she realized that it had misjudged the Indian intentions. India announced that her nuclear technology aimed for peaceful use for generating atomic energy but at the same time started working on nuclear explosive technology. Thus, unlike Indian nuclear program Pakistan’s nuclear program was reactive in nature. In the same manner the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, which ended in Pakistan’s defeat and the subsequent events including Indian testing of nuclear device in 1974, proved a turning point and the search for an equalizer logically led to the decision in 1970s to pursue the weapon option. This shows that Pakistan’s atomic progress was predominantly security driven and India-centric.
Pakistan achieved the technological advancement to test or produce nuclear weapons by the early 1980s, though refrained from a nuclear test due to various reasons. At this critical juncture, India started criticizing Pakistan’s nuclear program and even planned incollaboration with Israel to strike her nuclear reactor at Kahota. Indeed, Pakistan ensured that her nuclear program does not aim to secure a regional or global power status but to protect her territorial integrity in the case of any external threat and to develop nuclear deterrent. Since, 1970s Pakistan’s nuclear program has been at the centre of one controversy after another. The primary reason behind the program’s becoming controversial in international media and academic publications was its characterization by western media and Indian academia as the so-called “Islamic Bomb”.
This notion of so-called an ‘Islamic Bomb’ gained the vigilance of west and especially of the Indian and Israel with fear that Pakistan atom bomb will be sold or passed to Muslim militant world. The Hindu and Jewish lobbies started denouncing Pakistan’s nuclear program and termed it an ‘Islamic Bomb’ and continuously reinforced the notion on international and local forums that such Islamic Bomb will be used against the Jewish State and India.
From the time of its inception Israel did not want her neighbors and particularly the Muslim world to go nuclear. For this purpose she even destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor named “Osriak” under Operation Babylon in May, 1981. With this Pakistan felt threat that her nuclear sites would be the next target of the Jewish misadventure. Evidences were traced that India in collaboration with Israeli Air Force had made the plan for a covert air strike on Kahota in1983-83 by using Indian air bases for landing and refueling of Jewish warplanes. Both India and Israel had good relations at intelligence service level. In order to materialize their dirty plan, Indian military officials travelled secretly to Israel to buy electronic warfare equipments to neutralize Kahota’s air defense. They had planned to enter Pakistan beneath radar with war planes crossing Himalayas via Kashmir. Then Indian premier Indira Gandhi signed off to allow Israeli warplanes to carry the raids in collaboration with Indian Air Force from Indian air bases. Pakistan’s Naval intelligence alerted by the threat also traced suspicious activities near the costal cities. Pakistan Air Force intelligence intercepted Israel identity suspected F.16s on other side of the border. But the question arises here how they could not succeeded to accomplish their ill-advised plan?
This dirty Indo-Israel plan could not accomplish owning to two reasons. Firstly, this mission was forced downed in face of U.S State Department threat as Pakistan was key ally of United States in war against U.S.S.R in the region. Secondly, Pakistan through diplomatic means conveyed the messages and warned both the Indians and Israel that if Kahota was attacked Pakistan would hit Indian nuclear facilities at Trombay and Israel’s nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert respectively.
To cut the long story short, Pakistan fully heeded on plan of air defense of nuclear installation by securing advanced fighters and weaponry. Because Pakistan’s retaliatory capability was five times weaker than the enemy air force. As the Indo-Israel Air Force could reach to hit the site in three minutes whereas the P.A.F needed eight minutes to respond. Hence, through diplomatic measures and P.A.F’s aggressive measure and tactics under their counter operation better known as Operation Sentinel surprised the Indo-Israel Air Force; the mission was halted without accomplishment.