London: British diplomats feared that India
would be compelled to respond "with force" to Mumbai attacks
by launching air strikes against militant training camps in
PoK, a prediction dismissed as an "over-reaction" by their US
counterparts, according to classified American embassy cables
released by WikiLeaks.
British officials had evidence that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
"was planning more attacks" and speculated that Indians "will
feel the need to respond with force rather than diplomacy,"
the Guardian reported, citing the leaked documents.
The then foreign secretary, David Miliband, struggled to
get through to his furious Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee
in the aftermath of the attacks, the report said.
"The call took place only after many delays on the GoI`s
(Government of India`s) part," a cable noted.
After the Mumbai attacks, British officials in Islamabad
reportedly feared that intense domestic pressure would force
Delhi to respond, at the minimum, by ramping up covert support
to nationalist militants fighting the Pakistani army in
Balochistan, and at worst by launching air strikes against
militant training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
British officials admitted their concern was driven in
part by the presence of 500,000 British-Pakistani citizens in
PoK. "The pressure on India to react strongly would be
politically impossible to avoid," they were quoted as saying.
However, US officials, said: "For now, we believe the UK
embassy here is over-reacting," according to the cable, but
agreed that Pakistan should take proactive actions against
The Guardian reported that in mid-December, Miliband and
the high commissioner to Islamabad, Robert Brinkley, pressed
Pakistan`s intelligence chief, General Shuja Pasha of ISI, to
visit India, a suggestion that was quickly discounted.
"It would not be possible, said (President Asif Ali)
Zardari, to send Pasha immediately as Zardari needed to work
public opinion first," said an American report.
Instead President Zardari urged the UK to "push back on
New Delhi and calm the situation".
"Miliband said they would do so, but India needs to see
real action from Pakistan."
In New Delhi, western diplomats meeting to assess the
Mumbai attacks collectively decided to offer a sympathetic
public message to India "rather than pound on the government
for its massive intelligence failure".