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Other Nations Helped India Carry Out Air Strikes: Former Diplomat

Vishnu Prakash, ex-ambassador to Canada and South Korea talks about the IAF air strike on terror camps across LoC.

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Twelve Mirage 2000 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force launched an airstrike on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps across the LoC, dropping about 1,000 kg explosives in the early hours of Tuesday, 26 February.

The IAF completely destroyed the Jaish camp based in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

Vishnu Prakash, former Ambassador to Canada and South Korea speaks to The Quint on what he makes of the IAF airstrike, Pakistan’s role in harbouring terror groups, India’s diplomatic stand when it comes to dealing with terror and more:

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What do you make of the MEA breifing that has gone out today?

On the MEA briefing, Prakash said that it’s certainly a diplomatic dimension and from a diplomatic dimension “The strike was a preemptive strike, as the foreign secy has said.”

“For me, there are three takeaways,” he said.

  1. The Intent - The intent comes first as we have demonstrated very clearly that we have the capability of taking steps, even if they are hard steps, even if they are in self defence. We are not gonna roll over and play dead.
  2. The capability - The international community is very much on-board with us. We have John Bolton, the United States NSA and others. There is an international disgust with using terror as an instrument of foreign policy and unfortunately, the terrorist tentacles of a neighbour are spread everywhere. Afghanistan, Iran – look how they are taking US for a ride. So that is the kind of thing that is calibrated, its careful and the message is loud and clear for Pakistan to hear. I think, I hope they see the writing on the wall.
  3. The message - We are telling Pakistan that we do not want to engage in hostility with you, we do not want to be offensive. We are a peace loving country and for the last 20 years, we have been telling them that we are a large economy, we are the kind of river or lake that can life all the boats, so work with us – your requirements are the same as us. So, the message is clear that we haven't taken this with an offensive intent but in self defence.
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You were in Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of the Kargil conflict and then 9/11 happened. What has changed in Pakistan and India’s attitudes when it comes to tackling terror?

As far as Pakistan is concerned, it has gotten further emboldened into it. After 9/11, I remember that a straight-faced Musharraf told the nation that they are going to play ball with the US. Since then, they have played ball but its a very different kind of ball; they have – kind of – taken in 33 billion dollars and as Donald Trump says, they've hunted with the hound and ran with the heir. And America is paying the price in blood – this has emboldened them (Pakistan). I remember in 2005, in the White House, Musharraf looked Bill Clinton in the eye and said that 'we do not know where Bin Laden is, we have nothing to do with Bin Laden.' We all know he (Bin Laden) was found in the shadow of army brass – so that is the kind of country we are dealing with. In that sense, nothing has changed. They have gone further down the tube of, I would say self implosion.

As far as India is concerned, we have been very patient. After the attack on the Indian Parliament, we did not press the button, we said give peace a chance. After 26/11, we still gave peace a chance, After Pathankot, we still did that. Now, a stage has come where India decides enough is enough.

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Imran Khan has, very categorically said that you have given others a chance, why not give me a chance?

Mr Imran Khan, with all due respect, is nothing more than a front for the Army. He was nobody, he was plucked out of political obscurity and was anointed as the prime minister.

He will sing the army's song. He is nothing but a frontman – that is the tragedy of Pakistan. That the De Facto and often the De Jure power is with the armed forces in Pakistan. And they unfortunately overestimate their capabilities and underestimate the others. They present themselves as the custodians of the family silver who are right, who are strong and we know they need an enemy and well, India becomes the enemy.

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Do you feel that whatever Pakistan’s external policy is, whatever it does in the neighbourhood or the relations it wants to have with the larger international community is actually driven by what’s happening inside. Like Jaish is unleashed on India because they have to somehow rehabilitate the rogue elements within the country?

You have a point but why should the others pay the price for that? I mean, its like saying that Im playing with a gun, I've shot myself and now others should come to my rescue. Why? As Hilary Clinton says, they are nurturing snakes in their backyard. What stops Pakistan, which, a few years ago had Peshawar attack where 130 kids were assassinated? What stops them from refraining to be in denial? First acknowledge that they have a problem and then start handling the issue. Because they are using Jaish and Lashkar, etc as the spearheads of their terror structure, I think it is up to them only to decide if it wants to be a rogue state, a failed state, a terror state or be a normal state. We, in our very own interests, wish that Pakistan becomes a normal state. So we can co-prosper and co-develop. We have nothing against the people of Pakistan. We have our issues with the leadership of Pakistan, the army, the terror infrastructure and we have now demonstrated that we have the capability of drawing a line.”

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Do you want to comment on how maybe India diplomatically escalated the situation this time and were there any lessons that the Indian leadership learnt from the past experiences like Uri?

We have been learning our lessons since 1948 – when we took the matter to the United Nations. With that, we learnt that in international diplomacy, its your own capability that counts. No one is going to come to our rescue. We are a large nation. We are a capable nation and we have an impeccable track record. I'm proud as a former diplomat who served the country with this track record. We have never violated or fallen short of any commitment – economic, political or otherwise. So, we are capable of defending ourselves and the world respects that and countries are working with us. The fact remains that Pakistan has only two allies – one is a brother (Saudi Arabia) and the other is China.”

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Do you think that we have actually allowed Pakistan a window to actually sit its own house and the verdict of today’s briefing is actually allowing that window?

I think we have once again urged Pakistan to see reason. Without saying in so many words, we have reiterated the fact that we do not have offensive intentions. It has been a very pinpoint strike carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which had this main training camp and it was a successful mission. I have no inside information but I think what we have witnessed today is an international coordination. I won't be surprised if major players have worked with us in intel sharing, in making this happen so I think that is a message loud and clear to the neighbour and I hope they listen.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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