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Pakistan-origin hoaxes to divert attention: India

Sandeep Dikshit

Report claims Pranab Mukherjee threatened military action

Delhi not to react to misinformation campaign

ISI, Army want to claw their way into public acceptability

NEW DELHI: The External Affairs Ministry has dismissed a series of attempts being made in Pakistan to suggest that India is being intemperate in dealing with the fallout of the Mumbai terror attacks.

No sooner the Foreign Office and the Defence Ministry dismissed claims that additional troops were being moved to the western borders than India has to face up to allegations that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee made a call to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on November 28, threatening military action if Islamabad did not wind up the Lashkar-e-Taiba and other militant groups.

Diversionary tactic

While refusing to comment on the claim, the thinking within the Indian Foreign Office is that such disinformation stories could only mean that the Inter-Services Intelligence’s dirty tricks department is very much at work. The ISI and the Army are trying to divert internal and external attention from their complicity in Mumbai terror and thereby clawing their way into public acceptability in Pakistan.

The Indian Foreign Office is of the view that even to dignify such a disinformation campaign with a comment or denial would mean helping the rogue elements within the Pakistani establishment. The Foreign Office’s anticipation though is that these elements would muddy the waters and the world would see more such acts of disinformation.

The government has decided not to react to such disinformation after acquiring much diplomatic capital in impressing the world that there is no move to amass troops on the border.

Unease in western capitals over the possibility of a knee-jerk reaction by India to the Mumbai terror strike began after the Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, spoke of India diverting one lakh troops to its western border.

New war doctrine

Both the Foreign Office and the Defence Ministry pointed out that there was no move to send additional troops to the borders and any extra activity in the area was usual for this time of the year, when small unit level exercises are staged.

Also, under the new war doctrine, there is no need to begin sending thousands of troops for a build-up on the border as was the case during “Operation Parakram” following the Parliament House attack in December 2001. This is because of the new doctrine of ‘Cold Start,’ under which a steady, painstaking and obvious build-up of men and war material is not required.

India alive to ISI bid

New Delhi is aware that the ISI will continue to make attempts to sow misinformation to bring about a situation in which western countries would lose sight of the main issue at hand — bringing to book the culprits responsible for the Mumbai blasts and dissuading elements from planning terror attacks — in favour of an approach that says, “Okay little boys stop fighting.”

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