chapter  3
36 Pages

'Nuclear Deterrence in South Asia: The 1990 Indo–Pakistani Crisis', International Security, 20, p p. 79–114

Hersh's account of the 1990 Indo-Pakistani crisis has acquired the aura of conventional wisdom in both popular and scholarly circles. William E. Burrows and Robert Windrem essentially re-tell Hersh's story and add that ''Indian nuclear forces" were also "on alert."2 Political scientist Scott D. Sagan

acknowledges that Hersh's thesis is "unconfirmed," but relies on it nonetheless to help demonstrate the "perils of proliferation."3 In this article, I present a different interpretation of South Asia's 1990 crisis. My research suggests that a fourth Indo-Pakistani war was indeed a possibility, but that Hersh misinterprets the nuclear dimension of the crisis. I have found little evidence to corroborate his care description of events, much of which appears to be based on interviews with one anonymous U.S. analyst.4 To the contrary, a number of senior South Asian and U.S. officials have categorically denied Hersh's report. I will argue below that India and Pakistan were deterred from war in 1990 by each side' s knowledge that the other was nuclear weapon-capable, and therefore that any military hastiiities could have escalated to the nuclear level.