Indian diplomacy after 26/11 had one goal: show Pakistan that the cost of allowing the Lashkar e Tayyeba (LeT) to carry out attacks would be unaffordable.
The main problem: how could India raise the price of transgressions by Pakistan-based terror groups?
“Given that we have such limited leverage (in terms of hard action), India had to turn to latent coercive diplomacy.” said Amitabh Mattoo, professor of international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
New Delhi chose to pursue its goal along two flanks:
n It ended peace talks with Pakistan; and
n It got the US to pressure Islamabad to take legal action against LeT.
“But there was no real manifestation of our displeasure,” said former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G. Parthasarathy.
US pressure was a more potent weapon but it was exerted only intermittently. And Pakistan diluted it by pleading its domestic fragility and its Taliban problems. It also blackmailed the US by half-threatening to move troops from the Afghan border if things became too hot with India.
Washington, however, insists it is still holding Islamabad’s to its word to act against the perpetrators of 26/11.
“The chances of Pakistan convicting the top LeT leadership are close to zero,” said Teresita Schaffer of the US-based Center for Strategic & International Studies. But post-Mumbai, India has managed to get “Pakistan painted in a dark colour” with the entire world, she added.
As a result, every US security agency now commits resources to counter LeT. But this will not necessarily prevent a second 26/11.
Diplomacy can, thus, be said to have secured the country only half-a-loaf.