U.S. feared another LeT attack in India in mid-2009, and sought Pakistan's help to ‘disrupt and prevent' it

In June 2009, the United States had “credible reports” that the Lashkar-e-Taiba was planning another attack in India and asked Pakistan to disrupt those plans. The U.S. also warned that if such an attack happened, it could “hinder” Washington's efforts to provide military and non-military aid to Islamabad.

A June 23, 2009 cable from the State Department, sent under the name of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (213621: confidential), instructed the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad “to underscore to senior Pakistani government officials the critical importance of Pakistani cooperation in preventing Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) attacks on India.”

The cable said: “There are credible reports of advanced LeT planning for attacks against India. An attack at this time — especially from Pakistani territory — would undermine progress for regional cooperation, divert resources from the military campaign in the west, and could hinder the USG's ability to provide Pakistan with military and economic assistance without restrictive conditions.” It noted that the newly elected Indian government had shown readiness to re-engage with Pakistan. But “critical” to this was Pakistan's progress in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice.

“Another Mumbai-style or major LeT attack on India, especially if launched from Pakistani soil, could close this historic opportunity and could risk a stronger Indian response than that which occurred after Mumbai,” the cable warned.

The U.S. Embassy was asked to urge “Pakistan to take all steps it can to eliminate LeT permanently, while in the short term taking all possible action to disrupt LeT attack plans and other activities.” Just a month earlier, the LeT front organisation, Jamat-ud-Dawa, which had been designated under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, had resurfaced as a charity organisation in the refugee camps for the thousands of people who had been displaced by the military operations in Swat.

The cable asked the U.S. Embassy to convey that “we expect the GOP to act swiftly to implement [UNSCR 1267] sanctions against LeT/JUD, including by taking action against entities/individuals providing material support to the group (including any advertising or solicitation of funds for JUD). Effective implementation of sanctions should result in the cessation of JUD's ‘charitable' operations, including through any successor organizations.”

The possibility of another terror strike figured in other discussions. A cable dated June 11, 2009 sent from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi (211557: secret), reported a meeting between Home Minister P. Chidambaram and U.S. Undersecretary of State Bill Burns. The cable was accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks. According to the cable, Mr. Chidambaram noted that if there was another attack, “the people of India will expect us to respond. We won't have any other choice.”

Mr. Burns stressed that the U.S. was pressing Pakistan to take action against all terrorist groups. “He further acknowledged that although some steps had been taken [by Pakistan], we were likewise frustrated by the lack of demonstrable action against some groups. Burns added that we would redouble our efforts, both at the political and professional levels.”

The Pakistan Cables are being shared by The Hindu with NDTV in India and Dawn in Pakistan.