Faced with a near war-like situation with Pakistan after the Parliament attack in December 2001 and the Kaluchak massacre in May 2002, the then government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee turned to the US in a desperate move to prevent the outbreak of hostilities.
Vajpayee pushed the army right up to the border with Pakistan after the Parliament attack.
In Kaluchak, terrorists killed 31, including 18 family members of armymen and 10 civilians. Vajpayee called it a brutal and inhuman carnage and then foreign minister Jaswant Singh, in his book, said this incident almost brought upon a conflict. The drumbeat for a war to punish Pakistan was at its loudest.
Then US national security advisor Condoleezza Rice says in a new book — No Higher Honor — that she received a call from her Indian counterpart, Brajesh Mishra.
“I cannot contain the war lobby here without some help,” Rice quotes Mishra as saying.
“Making it clear that he was acting on his own, he asked that the President (George W Bush) make a statement, which he (Mishra) could use internally to try to hold the line,” writes Rice.
Rice said she took Mishra’s request to then secretary of state Colin Powell and the President, “who readily agreed to make a statement calling on Musharraf to live up to the promises he had made in his earlier speech”.
Bush was already upset with Musharraf, says Rice, “for conducting tests of a series of... missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads”. The US had no problems accommodating Mishra.
“The President publicly expressed ‘deep concern’ with Pakistan and used strong language to urge Musharraf to rein in the militants.” But the Pakistani President had continued to push the US, and then shortly got a phone call from Bush.
“Pakistan had made a choice after September 11 and needed to act or risk losing US support,” Bush told Musharraf, according to Rice. And things cooled down in the region eventually “in large part due to the good work of Brajesh Mishra”.