Atal Behari Vajpayee

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had a detailed discussion with the three military chiefs and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh soon after the 2001 Parliament attack on whether the Indian Air Force should be allowed to strike an Army training camp deep inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. As the hostilities between India and Pakistan grew after the Parliament attack, PM Vajpayee sided with the three military chiefs who opposed the view of Jaswant Singh that India should let its military forces join the US who were fighting Taliban in Afghanistan.

Soon after the attack, Pakistan had cleverly relocated its military training camp inside PoK which was sandwiched between a school and a hospital. Any attack by IAF on the said military camp meant a lot of collateral damage which Vajpayee and even the three defence chiefs were not interested in, the then Navy Chief, Admiral Sushil Kumar, has disclosed in his book that was released on Friday.

Kumar said that post the Parliament attack, the three defence force chiefs hurriedly met Defence Minister George Fernandes and National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra in the military operations room.

"Discussions were focussed on delivering a swift riposte which was the need of the hour and the contingency plan selected was to destroy a huge Pakistani Army training camp for terrorists located across the LoC and deep inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)," Kumar said.

Kumar added that while three defence forces prepared for possible retaliation against Pakistan, the last-minute strategic relocation of the military training camp ordered by the neighbouring country led to the decision reversal. 

"With our Army units in full readiness and all systems in operation, a last-minute intelligence report caused a huge hiccup. Apparently, the Pakistani Army training camp which was to be targeted had been cleverly relocated to a nearby site, sandwiched between a school and a large hospital.", the book revealed.

2001 parliament attack
PM Modi paying homage to Parliament attack victimsPIB India

Kumar said that PM Vajpayee in his typical poetic style conveyed his decision to all the members of the meeting that the operation should be aborted as striking the target could also lead to unacceptable collateral damage.

He added that the military chiefs also disagreed with Jaswant Singh on joining the US armed forces in Afghanistan in its Operation Enduring Freedom.

Both Vajpayee and Defence Minister George Fernandes clearly understood the mood of the three defence force chiefs and their disapproval of joining the US in the war against Pakistan which was in fair contrast with Singh's view that helping the US would project India as an ally against global war on terror.