A former Pakistani foreign minister claims India had planned a retaliatory strike after 26/11. A behind-the-scenes look at why India chose the diplomatic route, not war.
Sandeep Unnithan | October 14, 2015 |
On December 2, 2008, India's military, political and intelligence leadership went into a huddle in the Prime Minister's Office in South Block. The agenda at hand was weighty. The dozen or so men in a room deliberated options that had the potential of triggering a possible fifth India-Pakistan war. It was just a week since 10 Pakistani terrorists had targeted Mumbai and killed 165 people. The incident had provoked national outrage and there was tremendous public pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to retaliate.
Almost all the options discussed by the heads of the military, spy chiefs revolved around punishing the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which had masterminded the attack. The range of options included special forces missions, covert attacks, strikes by the air force on terrorist training camps and even an option of a limited war.
The options for retaliation that India debated, it now emerges, were known to the United States as well. Former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's memoirs, released in New Delhi on October 9, says the Bush administration sent senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and US special representative for Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke to Islamabad sometime after the attacks which began on November 26, 2008, to judge the public mood there.
"Senator McCain wanted to know from me," Kasuri writes in Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove, "in view of my experience, both as former foreign minister and as a politician, what the reaction of the Pakistani army and the public at large would be, if there was a limited air raid on Muridke", the headquarters of the Jamat-ud-Dawah (JUD), the charity front of the LeT and its leader Hafiz Saeed. Kasuri does not mention the exact date of the meeting, but it was clearly during McCain's two-day visit to Islamabad that began on Friday, December 5, 2008.