The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


2008 - Mumbai Attack 22/11

In the weeks since the 26 November 2008 terrorist attacks in India's financial capital, Mumbai, tensions were high between New Delhi and Islamabad. A group of ten gunmen armed with submachine guns and grenades swept through India's commercial capital on 26 November 2008, attacking hotels, the railway station, a cinema, and a hospital. More than 25 foreigners were among the 188 people killed in the three-day rampage. Indian authorities have accused the Pakistani-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has led a violent struggle against Indian rule in Kashmir, of training the terrorists and planning the attacks. India also suspects that the terrorist group arrived by boat from Karachi.

Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, and western observers did not believe the current tensions will lead to war, though this was probably the objective of the Mumbai attack. Both countries put forces on high alert and Pakistani also pulled out troops from the insurgency-hit areas to deploy them along borders with India. Pakistan placed its air force on high alert following what it described as threatening statements by Indian leaders. Besides the Karachi-based 31 Corps and Bahawalpur-based 5 Corps of the army, naval detachments are also participating in the exercise.

On 01 December 2008 Director General Inter Service Public Relation (ISPR) Major-Gen Athar Abbas said the Pakistan Army had so far not observed any military buildup by India on the western border. The ISPR chief said: "We are closely monitoring the Indian military movements at the international border and no unusual activity has been witnessed so far."

India's government said all options were on the table in dealing with neighbor Pakistan in wake of the unprecedented terror attack on Mumbai. On 03 December 2008 India External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at his side, told reporters there is no doubt the terrorists who struck the country's commercial capital came from Pakistan and were coordinated there. "Government of India is determined to act decisively to protect its territorial integrity and the right of our citizens to a peaceful life with all the means at our disposal," Mr. Mukherjee said. With tensions heightened between India and Pakistan, the top American envoy called for Islamabad to show its resolve and to join the international effort to find those responsible for the Mumbai terror attack. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made the remarks in the Indian capital where she met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other top Indian government officials.

On 10 December 2008 Indian media reported that armed forces, especially the air force and the navy, have been kept in a state of war readiness, but said there has been no massive mobilization of troops on the border, though. "Pakistan armed forces are highly professional. Pakistan has one of the best armies of the world. The nation should not be worried," Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said. "I want to give message to the nation that the country is in safe hands. They should not be worried," Gilani told reporters at the Multan airport on his arrival from Islamabad. "Pakistan is a responsible state. Being a nuclear power, we are cautious in reaction," Gilani said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, speaking to the national assembly in Islamabad, said the country's armed forces are "fully prepared and alert." Gilani says Pakistan does not want war, but, if aggression is imposed on the country, it will defend itself. On 11 December 2008 Pakistan put its naval forces on alert, Pakistan Navy spokesman said. The navy spokesman said the action had been taken in response to movements of their Indian counterparts. Pakistan Airforce had also confirmed reports of increased vigilance but assured that such actions are a natural reaction of the activities on the other side of the border.

On 16 December 2008, seeking to dampen persistent media speculation a retaliatory strike is in the works against Pakistan, India's defense minister declared no military action was being planned. But he warned Islamabad to act against terrorists on its soil, if it wants normal relations with India. A.K. Antony said war is not an option, as a response to the terror attack on Mumbai. Antony spoke to reporters in the capital who asked him about troop deployments on the border and reported preparations for military action with Pakistan, against whom India has gone to war three times in 60 years. India's Defense Minister A.K. Antony tried to allay widespread fears of a war with Pakistan. "We are not planning any military action. At the same time, unless Pakistan take actions against those terrorists who are operating in their soil against India, and also against all those who are behind this Mumbai terrorist attack, things will not be normal," he said.

Indian leaders later spoke a tougher language, saying they are frustrated by Pakistan's failure to act against the terrorists responsible for the Mumbai attacks and previous terror strikes targeting India. This fueled speculation that New Delhi may mount a retaliatory strike against camps of extremist organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India has blamed for the attack. On 22 December 2008 India's foreign minister told journalists that India had not ruled out military operations against terrorists in Pakistan if Islamabad does not deal with terrorists based on its own soil. "If you ask about military conflict, nobody will say about it in the media," Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a press conference while answering a question on the probability of a military conflict between Pakistan and India. "We have kept our options open."

By 26 December 2008 Pakistan Air Force was in a state of high alert and was conducting aerial surveillance of the Chashma power plant and other sensitive sites amid fears of a possible surgical strike by India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks. Forces were also deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border to protect vital points.

Pakistan moved 20,000 soldiers near the Indian border due to increase in tension with New Delhi in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks. The Pakistan Army's 14th Division was redeployed to the towns of Kasur and Sialkot, close to the Indian border. The redeployment relocated about one-fifth of Pakistani troops serving in the country's tribal areas. Pakistan shifted its 4 Corps, an important strike arm, to Lahore, just 25 km from Attari. Pakistan Army's 10th Brigade, consisting of around 5000 personnel, had been moved to forward areas in Lahore and the 3rd Armored Brigade had been moved to Jhelum. There has also been a heavy concentration of Indian troops on the border.

Pakistan had ruled out the option of war, but has vowed to defend the country at every cost if attacked. On 27 December 2008 U.S. officials urged India and Pakistan to avoid escalating tensions, as Pakistan began moving thousands of troops toward its border with India. A White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, said the United States was in touch with both countries and urging greater cooperation in investigating last month's Mumbai attacks, which India blames on Pakistan-based militants. Witnesses said they saw Pakistani troops moving eastward from Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, where soldiers have been fighting al-Qaida and Taliban militants. The military also canceled leave for members of the armed forces, and put both the army and air force on high alert. News agencies quote unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials as saying the troop movement began 25 December 2008 with soldiers being redeployed from Waziristan to the towns of Kasur and Sialkot near the Indian border. The military reportedly plans to shift a total of 20,000 soldiers from the tribal area widely known as a hotbed for Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other militants.

On 30 December 2008 the Pakistani foreign minister asked India to de-active its forward air bases and re-locate its ground forces to peace time location to create a conducive atmosphere. "I am floating two proposals to India to make the environment cordial and to defuse tension. I propose to India to de-activate air bases. It would be a positive step. I also propose to India to re-locate its ground forces to peace time positions," Shah Mahmoud Qureshi said in a televised speech on Pakistan Television. "These measures will reduce tension and we will move forward in positive," the Pakistani foreign minister said.

Rejecting Pakistan's contentions, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that there had been no escalation of tensions by India and that its military movements were routine winter exercises. Reacting to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi's statement that India had deployed ground forces to forward positions and activated forward airbases, Mukherjee said that there had been no such action on the part of India to escalate tension. The Indian army has made it clear that it's military movements were a 'normal winter exercise', Indian official media reported quoting the minister. "We have not done anything which can escalate the tension between India and Pakistan because from day one I am saying this is not an India-Pakistan issue," he said. "This is an attack perpetrated by elements emanating from the land of Pakistan, and Pakistan government should take action. We have not escalated the tensions, so where is the question of de-escalation."

Indian army chief Deepak Kapoor said on 15 January 2009 that Pakistan has moved some troops to its eastern borders with India and that he regarded war as a 'last resort'. On 16 January 2009 Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that Pakistan and India were nuclear powers and there was no possibility of war between the two neighbourly countries. He said India was issuing provocative statements time and again under tremendous public pressure.

India came close to trying the "Cold Start" doctrine, developed from experiences in troop mobilisation during Operation 'Parakram' after 2001 December Parliament terror attack. "Cold Start" refers to the military doctrine under which a smaller formation in the borders carry out a short, but quick offensive at the enemy's vital installation, in coordination with the IAF.

Pakistan's implied threat was that even surgical strikes against suspected terrorist training camps in Azad Kashmir would be considered an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty, and Pakistan would retaliate with all its might.

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:28:07 ZULU