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'Attacking Pakistan will not solve terrorism'

Former foreign secretary and former Indian envoy to the United States, Lalit
Mansingh does not think that military action against Pakistan is a good or
feasible idea. He thinks India should work on the diplomatic front and get the
United States and the international community to exert pressure on Pakistan.
Mansingh tells Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr that India should not react in anger
to the Mumbai terrorist act, but adopt a carefully formulated policy.

Is the US response more concerned with their own war on terror?

The Americans look at issues through the prism of their own national interests,
their global interests.In 2000, we formed a joint working group on anti-
terrorism. The Americans did not seem be to be interested in what we were
saying. The attacks of 9/11 changed all that. Once they were attacked they
realised what we were telling them was right. We were victims of terrorism before
9/11. But post-9/11 it became a priority for the Americans. There wasn't much we
achieved through the joint working group even after 9/11. The American
perception was that they were fighting international terrorism and we were
dealing with a local problem. We told them that the source of terrorism was
emanating from our neighbourhood, that madrassas in Pakistan were creating
future jihadis. They refused to take cognisance of it. Now the Americans are
almost convinced that we are both fighting the same phenomenon. What came
out from the Mumbai massacre was that the people who caused this massacre
were singling out American, British and Israeli nationals. What has resulted in
the Mumbai incident is the greater convergence of views between the United
States and India. This is why we are receiving greater cooperation from the FBI,
the CIA, British intelligence and the Israelis. That kind of intelligence cooperation
was not forthcoming earlier.

Do you think the US had pampered Pakistan all these years and their
response now is too little, too late?
My take on this is that depending on Americans alone is not good enough.
Americans cannot save us from terrorism. I think 80 per cent of the effort against
terrorism has to be national, 20 per cent international. Diplomacy is important.
But are we are doing enough on our own?

Should India should keep its options open vis-�-vis Pakistan?

What people are saying about keeping the options open, but not saying it, is the
military option. Now, I am strongly of the view that this is a dangerous way of
thinking, for several reasons. I have a generalised theory about India's dealing
with Pakistan. One is that when India tries to put pressure on Pakistan
bilaterally, they (in Pakistan) generally tend to become belligerent. So, it does not
work. When the international community puts pressure on Pakistan, they are
more inclined to cooperate with India. Invading Pakistan territory is not going to
help in fighting terrorism. Earlier, they were suggestions about taking punitive
action, and attacking terrorist camps in Pakistan. It is an option that was
considered carefully in the past, and given up. Remember, the terrorist camps are
not fixed. They change their location. You can attack a dozen camps, but they
crop up elsewhere. It is not a feasible option.

So how do we deal with it?

While dealing with Pakistan we have to remember two things. One, Pakistan is a
nuclear-weapon state. We have to handle it carefully. Second, Pakistan is a failing
state with deep internal divisions. Threatening it would make it easy for these
terrorist elements to take over. So instead of talking about other options, which is
a euphemism for military action, we should focus on diplomacy and get the
international community to pressurise Pakistan.

What do you make of US president-elect Barack Obama's statement

that every sovereign state has a right to defend its territory?
Let us look at the Obama doctrine. During the election campaign he said that if

there is actionable intelligence about terrorist activity and the Pakistanis were
unwilling or unable to act, then the US should strike. In our case, we do not have
actionable intelligence against Pakistan. The US has the capability for surgical
strikes. India is not the US.

Even the US commits blunders because they have been killing civilians in their
attack on terrorist targets.

Do you think that the time has come for the international community
to act against Pakistan?
Yes. The time has come. The US and the international community will have to
consider that the rifts in Pakistan society, its weak democratic structure and the
danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists are global
problems, not just that of India's. The international community will have to find a
way to deal with it.