New Delhi, November 22 (NIA): Former Indian Foreign Secretary and National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon, says in his just published book Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy, that Pakistan will not be able to control terrorism because terrorism is “hard-wired” into its society and politics.
“I am not so sure that it’s any longer within Pakistan’s capacity to stop terrorism now that it has so infected and become so entrenched in Pakistan’s society and state. Terrorism is hard-wired into Pakistan’s society and polity, not just into the ISI,” Menon says.
But he does not consider a retaliatory strike against Pakistan or any strong military action against it, will be useful in ending terrorism.
“The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) will not be deterred by the controlled application of military force. Radical ideologies and religion cannot be defeated on the battlefield particularly if (they have) state support,” he says.
Retaliation will boost morale at home, but not really tackle the problem of cross border terrorism, he argues.
Menon recalls that in the after of the 26/11 Mumbai attack, he did suggest a retaliatory military strike at Muridke and other targets, but the Manmohan Singh government decided against it.
A visible retaliation of some sort, either against the LeT in Muridke or their camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, or against the ISI, which was clearly complicit, would have been “emotionally satisfying” and go “ some way towards erasing the shame of incompetence that India’s police and security agencies displayed in the glare of the world’s television lights for three full days.”
He had urged both External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seriously consider retaliation. Mukherjee “seemed to agree”, Menon says. But he does not clearly say that Dr Manmohan Singh disagreed.
However, on sober reflection Menon says he feels that the decision not to strike back militarily but to hit back by “diplomatic and covert means” was right and gives six reasons for it.
First: The fact that a terrorist attack from Pakistan with official involvement had taken place, would have been obscured.
Second: An Indian attack would have united Pakistan behind the Pakistan army, which was in increasing domestic disrepute (and) disagreed on India policy with the elected civilian government.
Third: An attack on Pakistan would have weakened the civilian government, which sought a much better relationship with India than the Pakistan army.
Fourth: A limited strike on selected terrorist targets would have had limited practical utility and hardly any effect on the LeT.
Fifth: Collateral civilian damage was almost certain.
Sixth: If it led to war, that would have imposed costs and setback the progress of the Indian economy.