NEW DELHI: Quoting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, US Senator John McCain warned a gathering of Islamabad's elite on Saturday that India was
determined to strike terror camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir if the Zardari government did not act against jihadis of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and former ISI officers behind the Mumbai terror attack.
While the veracity of McCain's statement could not be verified, Indian armed forces are confident of their ability to launch swift cross-border "surgical strikes" if the leadership gives the green signal.
"Yes," is the unequivocal answer of the military brass, when asked whether they had the capability to take out the targets that have been a thorn in India's side for decades if the ongoing diplomatic "push" comes to military "shove".
Given "real-time intelligence", with exact coordinates about the terror camps, IAF fighter jets can swing into action with laser-guided bombs "within four hours" of a government go-ahead.
But even though Pakistan remains intransigent about moving against the people who planned the Mumbai carnage, matters are not expected to escalate to the military level as of now, especially with the US working overtime to prevent such an outcome.
The UPA government is keeping the military option against terror camps on the table as an indicator of its "firm intent" to get Pakistan to deliver this time. That was the message driven home by McCain, the Republican candidate who lost to Barack Obama in the US presidential sweepstakes, during his visit to Islamabad over the weekend.
"We certainly have the capability to destroy the camps but would need real-time intelligence about them with their exact coordinates," said a senior officer.
This will be crucial since intelligence reports, backed by surveillance and radio intercepts, are already showing "heightened activity" in many of the around 40 training and launching camps in Pakistan and PoK.
"The camps are largely makeshift in nature. The main clusters are in the Kotli-Muzaffarabad, Muridke, Karachi and Manshera belts. After the Mumbai attack, some are in the process of relocating, while others are emptying out," said a source.
"Consequently, though the process is already underway, it will take some time to identify the camps still housing militants. If the government gives the go-ahead, they will have to be kept under constant surveillance till the actual delivery of PGMs (precision-guided munitions) on them. Otherwise, the exercise will be reduced to just bombing empty jungles," he added.
In: Middle East
Tags: terrorism, insurgent, terrorist, terrorists, nato, nato review, ISAF, tribal, tribalism, insurgency, Afghanistan, Pakistan, tribal areas, terror, paul king, India, Mumbai,
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