Wanted to hit LeT camps in Pakistan after 26/11 strike: Shivshankar Menon

Would have been emotionally satisfying, govt felt more to gain by not attacking: former NSA in book.

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Updated: October 28, 2016 8:19 am
india, pakistan, Mumbai terror attack, 26/11 mumbai attack, pathankot attack, narendra modi, nawaz sharif, india pakistan talks, shivsankar menon book, india pak foreign secretary talks, india pakistan nsa talks, shivsankar menon, india news, latest news Shivshankar Menon

When Mumbai was attacked on 26/11, Shivshankar Menon, the then Foreign Secretary who went on to become National Security Advisor to the UPA government, pressed for immediate military retaliation “either against the LeT in Muridke, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, or their camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, or against the ISI, which was clearly complicit” because it “would have been emotionally satisfying”.

At that point in 2008, Menon believed that a military retaliation would have “gone a long way in erasing the shame of the incompetence that India’s police and security agencies displayed in the glare of the world’s television lights for full three days”.

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“On sober reflection and in hindsight… the decision not to retaliate militarily and to concentrate on diplomatic, covert, and other means was the right one for that time and place,” Menon writes in the chapter titled ‘Restraint or Riposte: The Mumbai Attack and Cross-Border Terrorism from Pakistan’ in his book Choices: Inside the making of India’s Foreign Policy, released in the United States and United Kingdom.

“The simple answer to why India did not immediately attack Pakistan is that after examining the options at the highest levels of government, the decision-makers concluded that more was to be gained from not attacking Pakistan than from attacking it,” he writes.

An Indian attack on Pakistan, he says, would have united that country behind the Pakistan Army and weakened the recently elected civilian government of Asif Ali Zardari. “A limited strike on selected terrorist targets — say, the LeT headquarters in Muridke or LeT camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir — would have had limited practical utility and hardly any effect on the organization.”

Between November 26 and 28 in 2008, 166 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed in spectacular terror strikes at different locations in Mumbai by ten Pakistani terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Menon notes that there had been other, more deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai before 26/11, all linked to Pakistan, but “nothing matched the level of organization, the sheer savagery, and the television-style spectacle” of this terror attack.

“The cross-border terrorists pose no existential threat to India,” he says, but “failure in India’s nation-building endeavour or prolonged economic failure would be”.

Arguing against the idea that one military action will end the conflict, he cautions that “India’s immediate political objective must recognise that this is a long conflict that cannot be solved — that is protracted and intractable. This is an idea that most Indians are reluctant to accept and some find intolerable”.

Menon points out that the Israel model “often quoted or misquoted, in support of military action as the answer” in India “is limited in time and effect”. Israeli tactics of short responses against non-state actors, not their state sponsors, seeks cumulative deterrence but the “use of deterrence in asymmetric warfare is questionable unless the non-state actors take over territory and act as governments”.

“India-Pakistan relations are one of the few major failures of Indian foreign policy,” says the former Foreign Secretary, where the two neighbours have been able to even achieve “a modus vivendi whereby each country goes its own way and leaves the other in peace”.

He laments the failure of efforts during 2004-07 between Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf which were stymied in 2007 by Pakistani domestic politics. “To me,” Menon says about the joint statement between Singh and Yousaf Raza Gillani in July 2009 at Sharm El-Sheikh, it “was another opportunity squandered in the long list of missed half chances in India-Pakistan relations”.

According to Menon, despite attempts by Pakistan, India has not really been affected by radical groups like the ISIS or Daesh. “This does not mean that there will not be deluded individuals or that incidents will not take place. But it does mean that social cement that keeps India together is strong and significant and must be strengthened by fighting all communally divisive forces,” he writes.

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First Published on: October 28, 2016 4:27 am
  1. A
    Abrrad
    Oct 28, 2016 at 5:57 am
    Bull shot, garbage trash talk to coverup the incompetency of your civil admin and UPA. 90 % of Indians don't have the age old Indian history stereotype atude of bearing attacks on our country and culture any more. This is the Age of Kohli and Modi, not Tendulkar or Nehru.
    Reply
    1. A
      annoyed
      Oct 28, 2016 at 8:47 pm
      Yes, the IFs and BUTs s can always say so many things, but Indian public is not stupid any more, Mr Congress Stooge..you simply had no idea how to execute it nor had the guts and intelligentsia to handle the diplomatic fall out..now get lost..run run away..
      Reply
      1. I
        indian
        Oct 28, 2016 at 9:05 am
        With fools like this in leadership, stan would have been laughing all the way to the bank. I'm much more impressed by email current government. Let's hope they eep the up.
        Reply
        1. M
          MyTake
          Oct 28, 2016 at 7:24 pm
          Mr. Menon now needs Mrit Sanjibani Sura!!
          Reply
          1. M
            MyTake
            Oct 28, 2016 at 7:23 pm
            Mr. Menon. needs Mrit Sanjibani Sura now!!
            Reply
            1. M
              MyTake
              Oct 28, 2016 at 12:46 am
              (Arguing against the idea that one military action will end the conflict, he cautions that “India’s immediate political objective must recognise that this is a long conflict that cannot be solved — that is protracted and intractable. This is an idea that most Indians are reluctant to accept and some find intolerable”.)lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Don't confuse others with your wisdom! Life is not Bollywood movie! Be serious!
              Reply
              1. M
                MyTake
                Oct 28, 2016 at 12:42 am
                Mr. Menon, to take a serious decision like the one you are talking about, one has to be quite familiar with what one is talking about! lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Who in Congress leadership is seriously familiar with the soul of India to represent it? Then talk about the next important step of taking a serious decision on its behalf! Not much point in trying to sell rotten stories to people who are much smarter now than they used to be in Congress's time (because they did not have the opportunity nor the choice)!
                Reply
                1. M
                  MyTake
                  Oct 28, 2016 at 3:11 am
                  Congie mentality is a guarantee to failure!lt;br/gt;All their skill lies at putting people against people (caste/religion) and insute against insute (CBI/IB) at home in order prove points to their masters for chicken feed in return!
                  Reply
                  1. A
                    ad
                    Oct 28, 2016 at 3:46 pm
                    Like all things UPA wanted to do; but never got around to doing them in 10 years. Maybe, because they were too preoccupied with the one thing that they REALLY wanted to do. Loot the country
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Sai
                      Oct 28, 2016 at 6:48 am
                      So you are indirectly telling mulayam malmal Singh stopped you along with Italian Mata and chiddu ji
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        Anil
                        Oct 28, 2016 at 6:32 pm
                        Congress led government from 1947 till today doing vote bank politics. Nehru needed free India Priministership; therefore, divided the country based on religion . After that keeping their position maintain started appeasing one community. Indra gained 1971, but because the same vote bank politics not solved the Kashmir problem. Rajive followed the same pattern, even amended the consution to appease the community. Worst happen when Sonia ruled from back door making most cowered person as priminister and weaken even Indian armed forces by not providing all technology. They looted country and still few again wish to rule by siding the most incompetent person like Rahul to chose the head of country to destroy this great country. These articles are the proof of incompetent bureaucrats that still want their share in the government by writing these articles and wish be a part of backdoor diplomacy. These selfish bunch of tugs should not get chance to be a part of any future goverments in India.
                        Reply
                        1. A
                          avd
                          Oct 28, 2016 at 5:02 pm
                          UPA govt never bother about preparedness of Armed Forces to meet external threat from stan.Its all energy gone in scams/commissions/bribe in Arm Deal and defending corrupt Politicians. Further Air Forces did not have new fighters/bombers but carry on with MIG 21 which have many accidents killing our Pilots.Its all decision based on Votes Bank Politics rather than concentrating in improving our economy and development of India. MMS Govt never shown aggressiveness against stan.
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            Ashok Mandal
                            Oct 28, 2016 at 9:47 am
                            Terming a terrorist attack with an adjective like ''spectacular'' is disgusting.The article was full of praise for the meticulous planning by the terrorist.Awful.
                            Reply
                            1. R
                              Raj
                              Oct 28, 2016 at 3:35 am
                              And don't call it surgical strikes - call it Cold Start from now on. The other guys got hit and they either don't know where and how they were hit or they are denying to save face. Either way, India won that aspect of conflict.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Remember, know your red lines, India will only lose a conflict if it turns on itself.
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                Raj
                                Oct 28, 2016 at 3:33 am
                                I just read about Samudragupt and then started reading about Alexander and then the Mughals, funny, when Indians got united, they repelled Alexander himself. When they started fragmenting (I think it was a Rajput king who invited Babur to get rid of the Afghans), India was invaded and annexed. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;So, really, everytime Indians will fight amongst themselves, someone external will take advantage. Even the British took advantage of fragmentation through divide and rule. In the future, China/stan will also take this advantage - so know the red lines and don't cross it.
                                Reply
                                1. R
                                  Raj
                                  Oct 28, 2016 at 3:18 am
                                  Surgical strikes were a miniature cold start - Congress/BJP, I don't think the Indian Army wants to be ociated with either party. Indian Army is Indian - that's it.
                                  Reply
                                  1. A
                                    Abdul Sami
                                    Oct 29, 2016 at 6:27 am
                                    Our friend america has been hitting pin point targets near kashmir in afghanistan, they can see the region above and below the earth to some extent, why their drones did not do what they should have done??
                                    Reply
                                    1. B
                                      bansi gopal
                                      Oct 28, 2016 at 9:46 am
                                      How do you expect a P.M who was always subservient to Madam Sonia hi to take a decision. Without getting green signal from 10, Janpath Road how could he take such a crucial decision. Remember Mr. rahul hi tearing of a piece of paper (which symbolizes the cabinet decision) at a Press conference where he entered impromptu. manmohan Singh the gentleman P.M did not even have the power to resign also on that shameful incident where an MP quite abashedly dismissing the entire cabinet decision as a junk. And there was also the great Mani Shankar aiyer, whose only belief and conviction was that all problems with stan can be solved only through dialogue and nothing else even under great stan provocation. Even if ManMohan Singh may have wished for a strong military retaliation against stan after 26/11, his hands were tied.
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        sb
                                        Oct 28, 2016 at 10:01 am
                                        Stop cribbing about what one thought of doing and then justifying the merits of doing nothing!! Its a PERVERSE FALSE argument that if one doesn't do anything, then nothing will go wrong and its of benefit. It only weakens the core morality of any NATION to stand up to bullies and Terrorism.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Talk of what is being done, what can be done to improve and what we can further do to get things done to dismantle Terrorism by stan.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Its not an emotive issue. Its a PROFESSIONAL JOB!!
                                        Reply
                                        1. B
                                          balu iyer
                                          Oct 28, 2016 at 11:13 am
                                          menon and family congress only talks nothing else ( suppose/going/wanted) nice words and crying now
                                          Reply
                                          1. P
                                            Pawar RS
                                            Oct 28, 2016 at 5:40 am
                                            Mauni and You . Stupid A** H*** you never had a spine be it VK Menon or you coming from the same lineage !! and to boot it MMSingh another rotten piece of flesh and bones if at all there are any !
                                            Reply
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