New Delhi: While Indian Army's surgical strikes along the Line of Control last month made much news, former Foreign Security Shivshankar Menon has claimed that a proposal to attack Lashkar-e-Toiba's headquarters in Muridke in Pakistan’s Punjab province, or their camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was made before the Congress-led UPA government after 26/11 carnage in Mumbai in 2008.
According to Indian Express, Menon who later became National Security Advisor to the UPA government, had actually pressed for immediate military retaliation soon after the Mumbai terror attacks.
Menoin claimed that an immediate military retaliation “would have been emotionally satisfying”.
In view of rising public anger in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks in 2008, Menon thought that a military retaliation would have “gone a long way in erasing the shame of the incompetence that India’s police and security agencies displayed in the glare of the world’s television lights for full three days”.
“On sober reflection and in hindsight… the decision not to retaliate militarily and to concentrate on diplomatic, covert, and other means was the right one for that time and place,” Menon had written in the chapter titled ‘Restraint or Riposte: The Mumbai Attack and Cross-Border Terrorism from Pakistan’ in his book Choices: Inside the making of India’s Foreign Policy.
The book has been released in the United States and the United Kingdom.
“The simple answer to why India did not immediately attack Pakistan is that after examining the options at the highest levels of government, the decision-makers concluded that more was to be gained from not attacking Pakistan than from attacking it,” he stated.
An Indian attack on Pakistan, he says, would have united that country behind the Pakistan Army and weakened the recently elected civilian government of Asif Ali Zardari.
“A limited strike on selected terrorist targets - the LeT headquarters in Muridke or LeT camps in PoK - would have had limited practical utility and hardly any effect on the organization.”
Between November 26 and 28 in 2008, 166 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed in spectacular terror strikes at different locations in Mumbai by ten Pakistani terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Menon also claimed that there had been other, more deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai before 26/11, all linked to Pakistan, but “nothing matched the level of organization, the sheer savagery, and the television-style spectacle” of this terror attack.
“The cross-border terrorists pose no existential threat to India,” he said, but “failure in India’s nation-building endeavour or prolonged economic failure would be”.
Arguing against the idea that one military action will end the conflict, he cautions that “India’s immediate political objective must recognise that this is a long conflict that cannot be solved.
“India-Pakistan relations are one of the few major failures of Indian foreign policy,” he maintains.
He laments the failure of efforts during 2004-07 between Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf which were stymied in 2007 by Pakistani domestic politics.