As Indo-Pak tensions escalated post-26/11 amid mounting evidence of involvement of Pakistani establishment in the Mumbai strikes, Pakistan’s army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had told America that his force “would respond to an Indian attack,” according to leaked U.S. cables.
Four days after Barack Obama took over as President, Gen. Kayani, during a meeting with U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus in Islamabad on January 24, 2009, claimed that Pakistan was exercising restraint in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, said a U.S. embassy cable from Islamabad, released by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
The United States, which has charged the WikiLeaks with indulging in a criminal act by stealing and releasing these cables, has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the documents.
“Kayani said he was going to exercise restraint with India, but would respond to an Indian attack,” the cable said.
During the meeting, Gen. Petraeus said “the most important threat to Pakistan was on the western border and internally. Terrorists were an existential threat to Pakistan. Kayani agreed.
“However, Kayani observed that he had postponed a missile test. The Indians, he said, in contrast, had conducted one just a few hours before,” according to the cable.
Gen. Kayani said he had no intention to resume missile testing as long as the current tensions persisted and promised to be transparent with allies about his plans, it said. He had also briefed the U.S. about the move of 6,000 troops to the Indian border.
“He recounted that he had taken no action the evening that (the then) Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had supposedly called President (Asif Ali) Zardari and threatened to declare war,” the cable said.
It later came out that Mr. Mukherjee never made such a call.
“Kayani asked to be alerted if the US had any warning of another attack — he understood that the Indians had been warned about the Mumbai attack. He mentioned that discussion of the consequences of a follow-on attack made both India and Pakistan hostage to extremists and increased the likelihood of an attack,” the cable said.
“If there is any clue about another attack,” he said, “please share it with us.”