The Manmohan Singh government is weighing various options including a strike on Pakistan to dismantle its terror bases in response to the recent Mumbai terror attack. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today hinted about military option when he told a news channel, “As and when it takes place, people will come to know, it’s not publicised. Every sovereign country has the right to protect its territorial integrity and take appropriate action and when it feels necessary to take that appropriate action.”
“What will be done, time will show and you will come to know,” Mukherjee earlier told reporters on the sidelines of a conference today.
Singh convened a Cabinet committee meeting on security today to discuss the issue. Last week, he met the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs to take stock of the current situation and take their inputs to decide the nature of India’s response to the alleged Pakistan-sponsored terror strike in Mumbai.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is coming to New Delhi on Wednesday and top government sources suggest the issue of attacking Pakistan will be discussed with her. The US has resorted to unilateral hot pursuit for Taliban terrorists hiding inside Pakistan near its border with Afghanistan.
As a strike on Pakistan will invariably lead to a full-scale war between the two nuclear-armed countries, India is maintaining a cautious approach and wants to gauge every possible ramification of its decision.
“An assessment of the pros and cons of an attack on the terror bases in Pakistan is currently underway. The final decision will be taken only on the considerations of national interest,” said a top government official.
The Manmohan Singh government is also talking to various governments across the world for a UN resolution allowing a coalition force of affected countries to destroy terrorist camps in Pakistan.
While the government is keeping in mind the impact of a war on the country’s economic health during the time of the global slowdown, the biggest concern for India is the response of the US. Although US President-elect Barack Obama has said that India has the “sovereign right to go after terrorists” to protect itself, India wants the support of the current George Bush regime, which will continue till February, for an attack on Pakistan.
The visit of Rice is expected to provide important directions on this issue.
In 2002, India could not attack Pakistan despite deploying its troop on the border because of US interference. Then US president Bill Clinton didn’t support India’s move as Pakistan was supporting US’ war against terrorists in Afghanistan and the US feared that India’s attack would stop Pak’s help in Afghanistan.
The Bush government has also decided to send senior military and intelligence officials to Islamabad to force the Zardari government dismantle the terror hubs supported by the ISI.
India’s Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon has been sent to the US to brief US officials about recent terror attacks in India including the Mumbai episode.