NEW DELHI (TIP): Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri has claimed that after the 26/11 Mumbai attack in 2008, an American delegation led by Senator John McCain had shared the possibility of India carrying out “limited air strikes” at the headquarters of Lashkar e Taiba near Lahore. Mr Kasuri, 74, who is in Delhi for the launch of his book “Neither a Hawk, Nor a Dove” on Wednesday, October7, told the NDTV’s Buck Stops Here that the Americans told him they wanted his advice on whether such a strike could “avert a full blown war” as someone “who knows the military, is close to Pervez Musharraf and has been a minister.”
The former minister said the bipartisan delegation “must have been talking to important people in India” and implied that a limited air operation could prevent a full blown war
“I said what are you contemplating?,” Mr Kasuri said, sharing his conversation with the US delegation; McCain was accompanied by Richard Holbrooke, special representative of the Obama administration. McCain said, “I am coming from India and they are very angry after Mumbai and we feel a war can be averted (in this way).”
“They said to me this is our feeling. There’s a chance of a war, a war can be averted, there is outrage in India,” Mr Kasuri said, adding that when he pressed them on what action India may have been contemplating, the Americans replied – “Limited air strike on Muridke.”
Muridke is the base of the terror group Lashkar e Taiba around an hour’s drive from Lahore.
Mr Kasuri, who was foreign minister in 2002-7 under Pervez Musharraf, said he had been asked how he thought Pakistan would respond to a limited air raid by India.
“I said are you trying to prevent a war?He said we think that this may well prevent a war. I said the Pakistan army will give a measured response. It will be a measured response commensurate with the severity of the attack on Muridke,” he said.
“They said we are asking you because you will know the public response. I said public response will be so grave that Pakistan army will be delegitimized in the eyes of the people if it does not respond,” he added.
India has dismissed the claims made in Kasuri’s book and denied that there were ever any such plans of military action post 26/11.