In the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26, 2008, top diplomats and officials did some tough talking with the United States on Pakistan, with the former Foreign Secretary, Shivshankar Menon, conveying in clear terms New Delhi's disagreement with Washington's assessment that the Pakistan Army was not involved in the dastardly strike.
“Let us not insult one another by telling a story that the Pakistan Army was not involved,” Mr. Menon had said. The Pakistan Army paid wages to the Lashkar-e-Taiba and sustained the organisation, and until these ties were severed, India would continue to regard the Pakistani security services as complicit in the Mumbai attack.
Mr. Menon had concluded: “They're either unwilling to take action, or incapable, or both; any way you look at it, they're involved,” a cable from the U.S. Embassy, released by WikiLeaks and posted on The Guardian website, said.
The January 9, 2009, communication records the conversation held a day earlier at a meeting Mr. Menon had with visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher and Ambassador David Mulford here.
Mr. Boucher told the former Foreign Secretary about his impressions from his visit to Pakistan, that President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani were committed to ridding the country of terrorism, had made real strides with terrorist groups operating in tribal areas and understood that they needed to tackle groups like Lashkar, which was much more difficult. “We're not giving them any break; they must eliminate Lashkar,” Mr. Boucher stressed, adding that it would require persistence, the cable noted.
However, Mr. Menon contended that Pakistan was nowhere near the threshold of proving sincerity in its response to 26/11, and had not taken irrevocable steps towards eliminating Lashkar as a threat to India. Mr. Menon's worry, the cable notes, was that the civilian government was incapable of taking action against Lashkar and the military had not made the strategic shift required to do so.
He also told the U.S. that India had deliberately not taken action that would undercut the civilian government, or impact the Pakistani people, such as cutting trade, travel or diplomatic representation. He warned if Washington raises expectations of an increased civilian power, the military would knock it down and that an Indian embrace of the civilian government would be “the kiss of death.”
In a November 2009 discussion between Joint Secretary Y.K. Sinha and U.S. Embassy political counsellor Uzra Zeya, Mr. Sinha refers to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna's remark to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi about constant delays and adjournments in the trial of 26/11 conspirators. Mr. Qureshi's response was that the government cannot interfere in Pakistan's judicial process.
Mr. Sinha said this proved that Pakistan was not serious in bringing Mumbai conspirators to justice because it interferes in the judicial process when it suits Pakistan to do so.
“He delivered a bleak long-term prognosis for India-Pakistan relations. ‘Call me a cynic,” Mr. Sinha said. “But even if India were to lop off Kashmir and hand it on a platter to Pakistan, they would still find a reason to make trouble for us,” the cable states.
In another recorded conversation between the former National Security Adviser, M.K. Narayanan, and Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Robert Mueller in Delhi on March 3, 2009, Mr. Narayanan describes the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as the root cause of terrorism in Pakistan, and suggests that the ISI would have to be seriously reformed in order to address the problem effectively.
Mr. Narayanan rules out the possibility of a joint investigation into 26/11 with Pakistan stating that the timing was not right, given the levels of suspicion both countries have for each other, and that even sharing of information envisaged under the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism did not work.
He said Pakistan would have to fight terrorism for its own purpose or it will implode, and that India's interest was not in Pakistan's demise but in its stability. “When we say we want a stable Pakistan, its enlightened self-interest,” he said, adding that given its experience in dealing with the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, U.S. should be able to convince Pakistan that if it doesn't deal with terrorism, it won't last.