India planned airstrikes in Pakistan after Mumbai terror attacks

Former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri has claimed that India planned to carry out surgical airstrikes in Pakistan following the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

In an interview with India Today Television ahead of the launch of his book on Pakistan’s foreign policy, Kasuri, who was the foreign minister between 2002 and 2007, said the planned airstrikes were to be against Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa in Muridke near Lahore.

He said a US delegation led by former US presidential candidate John McCain had met him after the 26/11 attacks, expressing apprehensions that India might carry out surgical strikes at the headquarters of banned terrorist outfits. The delegation, including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, was visiting Lahore.

Quoting McCain, Kasuri recalled: “Senator McCain… says to me ‘We’re asking you something in view of your experience as former foreign minister because you know the army, and also since you’re a civilian you know the public reaction. Supposing… there’s a limited strike on Muridke’.”

He told them if the Indians did that, the Pakistani military would give a measured response in five minutes. “Everything could spiral out of control. The public response will be so great the Pakistan Army would be de-legitimised in the eyes of its own people if it does not respond,” he recalled as telling the US delegation.

Kasuri believed the US delegation had spoken to “someone very high in India” before asking him the question.

When asked by the interviewer how Pakistan would react if the Narendra Modi-led government planned a limited strike, he replied: “All hell will break loose…” Kasuri said back-channel talks between the two countries on issues such as Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek had made substantial progress when he was the foreign minister and solutions were in sight.

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