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John Hallam
People for Nuclear Disarmament
Human Survival Project
Co-Convenor, Abolition 2000 Working Group on Nuclear Risk Reduction

Prime Minister Imran Khan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi


Foreign and Defence ministers


Dear Narendra Modi and Imran Khan:

I am writing in a more personal capacity than usual because of the urgency of getting a letter to you. You may or may not receive a more formal letter signed hopefully by many others later. In the meantime this will have to do.

I write as one who for the last 20 years has been deeply concerned with the global risk of nuclear war. The 'Operational Readiness' resolution is a direct result of my work. I also regularly encourage governments in the GA to support India's 'Reducing Nuclear Dangers' resolution. I am well known to Indian diplomats.

I write also as one who has regularly visited the subcontinent since about 1984, and have many dear Indian friends and colleagues. Bluntly, I do not wish to see them vaporised along with the roughly 200million other potential prompt casualties suggested by some simulations of an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange.(God forbid).

I urge you to step back from the brink.

I welcome Imran Khan's appeal made in the last few hours, urging that there be no 'miscalculation'. Madness, malice, miscalculation, malfunction, or malware – the five malign 'm's' – could send India and Pakistan into a spiral of escalation that could, potentially, bring about the complete and utter destruction of both your societies.

Once more, God forbid.

I do not wish to have to mourn my and my wife's many friends in the subcontinent, nor the possible hundreds of millions of other potential casualties likely to perish if buttons are pushed.

The danger is real. While India has a 'no first use' (NFU) doctrine, Pakistan does not. India's NFU doctrine may be under considerable pressure right now. Abandoning it would be fatal at this point.

Pakistan argues it must deter a conventional attack. Questions will then arise as to just how large such an attack must be in order to warrant a nuclear response that could set off a sequence that destroys both countries. Where, pray, are the 'red lines'? How do we know where they are? What if miscalculation or accident inadvertently crosses them?

Thus far, the situation has remained at the level of border crossings by aircraft, lasting minutes. A number on both sides seem to have been shot down.

Please, let it remain at this. So-called 'honour' has been satisfied. It is not necessary to proceed to a nation-ending holocaust.

Once nuclear weapons have been used – any nuclear weapons whatsoever, even the smallest most precise tactical nukes – it is likely that such use would escalate to the use of Ghauri and Agni strategic nukes against cities.

In that case, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Surat, and many others will become firestorms. So too will Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and many other Pakistani cities.

The smoke of their burning will (according to computer simulations) reach the stratosphere and bring about a global cooling effect (nuclear winter) that could produce global food shortages, bringing about the deaths over the next decades of over a billion people.

This cannot be allowed to happen.

It is clear that a solution to the Kashmir problem can only evolve over decades. What will NOT help it to evolve is posturing on either side that brings two countries to the brink of mutual destruction.

I beg, implore, both of your Governments to step back from the brink.

John Hallam

UN Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner

People for Nuclear Disarmament

Human Survival Project

Co-Convenor, Abolition-2000 Working Group on Reducing Nuclear Risks

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