This is the story of how Pakistan lost the “Great South Asian War”. The causes were deeply rooted in its history. But the policy choices it made after India and Pakistan declared themselves nuclear-armed states in 1998 showed it was not merely a victim of circumstances. The hijacking of Flight IC-814 was only one chapter, but it drew together many threads of that story. The nuclear weapons that were celebrated throughout Pakistan as putting it on par with India instead accelerated its downfall—by giving it a false sense of inviolability under which it unleashed militant forces that it could no longer fully control. Insecurity fed on itself, keeping the country in a state of siege and the military-dominated elite in power even as Delhi exploited its own nuclear-armed status to gain greater international standing. As a praetorian state, Pakistan had always prioritised military over diplomatic and political solutions. The nuclear weapons that made it stronger militarily only accentuated that imbalance. India’s success, in contrast, was based on an approach that was largely diplomatic, political and economic. The possession of nuclear weapons was, at most, a complement to its strategy. As Prime Minister Vajpayee had foreseen when he announced the nuclear tests to the world, India won recognition from the United States as an ally and rising power. It was not so much that India won the Great South Asian War but that Pakistan lost it. A process that had begun in 1947 accelerated after 1998.