Sunday, December 07, 2008

Prank call that could have led to war

Sounds like a scene straight out of a Bollywood movie. At the height of the Mumbai incident, when feelings were running high, Pranab Mukherjee calls up Asif Ali Zardari late in the evening and threatens him with dire consequences unless he cooperates fully in acting against the terrorists who masterminded and carried out the Mumbai incident.

But this really happened. Someone posing as the Indian External Affairs Minister, actually called up Zardari. And someone in Pakistan, overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation, bypassed the usual checks and verifications and passed the call directly to the Pakistani president. The caller introduced himself as Pranab Mukherjee and, while ignoring the conciliatory language of the president, directly threatened to take military action if Islamabad failed to immediately act against the supposed perpetrators of the Mumbai killings.

This set into motion a frenzied round of political, military and diplomatic activities in Pakistan, bringing the military to a heightened state of alert, which resulted in the US sending out Condoleeza Rice to the region to avert war.

A breakdown in protocol turned into an embarassment for the Pakistani establishment. But while it may sound hilarious now, India and Pakistan were on the brink of war for the next 24 hours.

Both India and Pakistan are nuclear armed neighbors, and are at odds with each other. Just imagine the consequences of such a serious lapse in protocol.

1 comment:

Vinod_Sharma said...

Sagarone, this is more hilarious than alarming. Wars don't start by mere telephone calls. It take months of preparation and build up to launch a full-fledged attack on a country.

The call would have created a 'scramble' panic and may well have led to issuance of orders for mobilisation. Thank God someone put at least some fear into te Pakis, even if it was for less than a day! A lot more will have to drilled in over time to make those guys stop sending their merchants of death.