Army calls the shots, US told India miffed over 26/11 inaction by Pakistan (Wikileaks)

India was sorely disappointed by the Government of Pakistan’s failure to take “visible” steps against the Lashkar e Toiba militants accused in the Mumbai terror attacks, but the US consoled it by pointing out that the Pakistani civilian government was powerless before its own army.

According to a US diplomatic cable written in February last year, Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), tried to bring Indian foreign minister SM Krishna ‘down to earth’ on his expectations from the Pakistani government.

At a January 18 meeting with the foreign minister in New Delhi, Holbrooke urged Krishna to recognize who is really in charge of Pakistan’s policies towards India, Afghanistan, Lashkar e Toiba etc..

Krishna was pushing for “visible steps” on bringing the perpetrators of Mumbai terror attacks to justice before starting talks with Pakistan. He pointed out that Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has assured him in September 2010 that investigations and prosecutions into the Mumbai Terror case “would have reached certain levels” by November or December 2010.

However, Krishna pointed out, Qureshi had called him in January (2011) to explain that action against the accused in the Mumbai terror case was getting delayed in the judicial process.

“[Krishna] stressed that India sought some “visible” steps by Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of Mumbai to justice. This would provide India with the political space with its public to move forward.

“At the same time, if there were more terrorist incidents, India would be “driven” to take a much harder position towards Pakistan. PM Singh had been judicious and had not acted in haste after Mumbai, Krishna said, but India does not want to be ‘bullied,'” the then US ambassador to India Timothy Roemer wrote to Washington after the Holbrooke-Krishna meeting.

Holbrooke urged Krishna to take a practical view of the situation and pointed out that there is only so much that the (civilian) government of Pakistan can do.

“Holbrooke assured Krishna that the U.S. was deeply disturbed by the GOP’s ties with the LeT and described U.S. efforts to press Pakistan to take action against the group. He assessed that the civilian government in Pakistan had a limited capacity to take such steps.

“The Army was the key decision maker while President Zardari was increasingly sidelined and the GOP was struggling with a failing economy. The military was not likely at this time to resume full control, but would assert its views on relations with India and Afghanistan.

“Holbrooke cited the example of India’s exclusion from an Afghan conference in Istanbul — despite efforts by Holbrooke and Secretary Clinton — as an example of the military’s weight in decision making.

“In his view, a paralyzed Pakistani government could not move forward on tough decisions. Until the political process in Pakistan settled down, little progress could be made. Krishna said India was also getting a pessimistic picture of what was taking place in Pakistan which was both confusing and disturbing,” Roemer’s description of the meeting, revealed by Wikileaks, went on.

A year later, the Indians would throw in the towel and restart peace talks (though not the broader ‘composite’ talks).