Ramesh Thakur is quite wrong in his Sept. 8 article, “Revisiting the folly of India’s nuclear tests.” The nuclear tests of India in 1998 did not create a nuclear-armed Pakistan. According to A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani scientist who developed nuclear weapons with the help of China, Pakistan got its nuclear weapons in 1983. Thus, if during the Pakistani invasion of Kargil in 1999, India had crossed the international border to take away a major chunk of Pakistan, the response from Pakistan would have been a nuclear attack, as it was ready with Chinese missiles fitted with nuclear weapons.
U.S. President Bill Clinton saved both countries by asking Pakistan to withdraw. It would be complete madness and stupidity for India not to have a full-scale nuclear defense against both China and Pakistan. For that reason, India must conduct more nuclear tests until it can achieve that credible defense.
Thakur’s arguments remind me of what Gandhi advised the British in 1940 — welcome Hitler into Britain and, in response, Hitler’s heart would melt. Gandhi brought disaster to India, with the eventual partition of the country and the deaths of 3 million to 4 million people. At least 14 million became homeless, as he had no strategy against the Muslim League and the British. Similarly, without plans for a nuclear deterrent, India will surely be destroyed by either China, Pakistan or both.