The Tribune - Spectrum

Special Issue: countering terrorism
Special Issue
Countering terrorism

Views of eminent experts and thinkers on countering terrorism

Hari Jaisingh

Kanti Bajpai

Asghar Ali Engineer

Owen Bennett Jones

Shelley Walia

G. Parthasarthy

T. V. Rajeswar

Gen V N Sharma

Ashok K. Mehta

Prakash Singh

M. J. Akbar

Sunday, January 5, 2003
Tribune special

“We need to think out retaliatory military measures”

G. Parthasarthy, former Indian envoy to Pakistan, Australia and Myanmar, believes that for dealing with Pakistan India needs policies that can be sustained and are credible. Excerpts from interview with Rajiv Sharma.

Are you satisfied with the way India has tackled terrorism and Pakistan which is exporting terrorism to India?

There has been a total lack of consistency and firmness in dealing with Pakistan. First we said that we will not talk to Pakistan unless it ends cross-border terrorism. Then we proceeded to invite Gen Musharraf to Agra without any preparation. The Agra summit was a fiasco. Similarly, we mounted a large military build-up on our border with Pakistan after the attack on the Parliament with the declaration that it was going to be a fight to the finish. Yet, when the families of our soldiers were killed in Kaluchak on May 14, and when terrorists attacked Akshardham, even with our armies deployed on the border, we did nothing. We simply withdrew our troops claiming that they had achieved their objective. This has only eroded our credibility.

Does that mean Pakistan now feels that India can only indulge in hard talk vis a vis Pakistan and is incapable of taking any firm measures?

Gen Musharraf and his colleagues now assert that India has neither the capability nor the will to take any military action. This is a serious setback to our credibility.

So what should India do in this regard?

There is need to devise policies which we can sustain and are credible. Diplomatically, we need to consider measures to consistently mount pressure on Pakistan and expose its intentions, whether it is on the question of cross-border terrorism or its reluctance to promote economic cooperation and meaningful people-to-people contacts. We also need to think out retaliatory military measures that are precisely targeted, measure proportionate and internationally justifiable.


How do you look at the role of the USA in the Indo-Pakistan standoff ? Has the USA done enough for India?

The USA has done what is possible under the present circumstances given its total dependence on Gen Musharraf. They are totally dependent on him for operations in Afghanistan and in Pakistan against the Al-Qaida. There are also indications of Pakistan promising support for an American military campaign against Iraq. We demean ourselves when we seek the support of others to deal with Pakistan instead of taking firm and consistent measures on our own.