Washington: Citing extensive presence of terrorist outfits in Pakistan, a former CIA official has praised the Indian leadership, especially PM Manmohan Singh, for showing restraint after every major terrorist strike, including the 26/11 attack, to avoid falling into the trap of warmongering as is desired by the promoters of these groups.
"If Singh and (Sonia) Gandhi had responded with force, not restraint, as both (the then President, George W) Bush and (the then President-elect, Barack) Obama had urged, this gang of terrorists could have created the war that they hoped for," a former official with the American intelligence agency and Brookings scholar, Bruce Riedel, says in his latest book, `Avoiding Armageddon: America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back`.
"A war between India and Pakistan, even if conducted on a limited basis with conventional weapons, would have been devastating to US interests," Riedel wrote.
"(And) if that war had escalated to a nuclear exchange, the implications would have been even more disastrous for America and the world.
"India and Pakistan have the capability of destroying each others` cities. The destruction of just Mumbai and Karachi would mean the death of millions.
"The economic, political, and climate implications are self-evident," Riedel notes.
Referring to the significance of the supply route to Afghanistan from the Karachi port, Riedel said if India and Pakistan had gone to war, that supply line would have been instantly put in jeopardy.
Riedel said that al-Qaeda and LeT understood that completely.
In his book, Riedel argues that al Qaeda had an important role to play in the Mumbai terrorist attack.
Illyas Kashmiri, in an interview, has said that al Qaeda manipulated the planning of the operation to make it bigger than what the ISI expected and the LeT senior leadership wanted, he writes.
"Headley`s interrogation and confession make it clear that al Qaeda was involved in the planning of the plot, operating independently of the ISI and keeping a low profile.
According to Kashmiri, al Qaeda wanted a nuclear war between India and Pakistan in order to disrupt the global counter-terrorism efforts against al Qaeda, to complicate NATO`s war in Afghanistan, and to polarise the world between Islam and the "Crusader-Zionist-Hindu" conspiracy," Riedel writes.
"For al Qaeda, a war between India and Pakistan would be a global game-changer, disrupting the US campaign to defeat it, weakening the global unity in the battle against terrorism and creating a whole new environment for (the terrorist group) to operate in," he said.