In a startling revelation, Pakistan's former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri has said India planned air strikes in Pakistan following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
In an exclusive interview with India Today ahead of the launch of his book on Pakistan’s foreign policy, ‘Neither A Hawk, Nor A Dove,’ Kasur said India planned air strikes to target Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa in Muridke near Lahore.
Read: Mumbai attacks: India, US urge Pakistan to bring perpetrators to justice
The former foreign minister claimed he was approached by a delegation led by former US presidential candidate John McCain expressing apprehensions that India may carry out surgical air strikes at the JuD and LeT’s headquarters near Lahore.
Quoting McCain, Kasuri who was foreign minister between 2002 and 2007 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’.”
Regarding his response, the former foreign minister said, ““I told them if the Indians did that, the Pakistani military would give a measured response in five minutes… It could lead to a war. But they thought it could prevent it.”
“Everything could spiral out of control. The public response will be so great that 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.
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Kasuri said he was certain the US delegation had spoken to “someone very high in India” before asking him the question.
Further, he said the delegation which also included Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan had visited Lahore.
Asked how Pakistan would react if the government under Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi planned a limited strike, Kasuri said, “All hell would break loose…”
The former foreign minister said backchannel talks between the two countries had made substantial progress when he was the foreign minister on intractable issues such as Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek and solutions were in sight. He said Musharraf had emerged as a statesman in the later years of his presidency.
We didn't want borders to divide territories. We looked at the interest of Kashmiris, Kashmiris wanted demilitarisation," Kasuri said.
Read: Foreign policy: Khurshid Kasuri to launch book next month
Further, he said Modi should appoint people he trusts for meaningful backchannel talks. “Men of goodwill” and political resolve are needed to resolve all outstanding issues, he added.
Kasuri's book has already been launched in Pakistan and is set to be launched in New Delhi on October 7.
This article originally appeared on India Today.
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