Catching them with their pants down
When the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Khan Junejo, visited India for talks, the venue was fixed at the Windsor Manor Hotel, Bengaluru. I made a special trip to Bengaluru to check the security there. The most important subject of the spreading terrorism in Punjab was discussed during these talks and Rajiv Gandhi expressed our concern about the covert help being given to the terrorists by Pakistan.
It was decided that the Home Secretary of India would lead a delegation to Pakistan to hold talks with his counterpart in Pakistan to identify the necessary measures to be taken by both the countries to counter the menace.
The discussion (in Pakistan) had a formal opening with introductions and a welcome speech by the Secretary, Interior Ministry (Mehmoud). After a brief response in diplomatic language, I said that I was not a trained diplomat and many of the things I had to say to them may not sound pleasant to their hearing.
I spoke for half-an-hour, setting out the circumstantial evidence we had of Pakistan helping the terrorists in Punjab, the cover provided by the Pakistan Rangers for the illegal border crossings of terrorists from Pakistan to India, details of the existing training camps on the border set up by the ISI and the confessions of the captured terrorists recorded on video. The DG, BSF, supplemented my statement and Srinivasan, Joint Secretary, External Affairs Ministry, presented further evidence of Pakistan's complicity.
In response, Mehmoud and his delegation flatly denied any complicity in the matter. At the end of their statements, I laughed aloud and said that in that case, we from India would have to do something dramatic to make them admit their guilt. After making that loaded statement I stopped talking, pretending I was searching for my pocket leather cigar case. I took my own time to pull a cigar out. I then took some more time lighting it, before continuing.
All the while there was great expectancy of what I would say next. I said in a loud voice that in order to make them believe this, we would have to march across the border and catch them 'with their pants down,' training the terrorists in the camps set up by them.
There was hushed silence and I quickly forestalled their angry retort by adding that I never expected them to confess about their involvement. I, however, expected that we will both work out joint measures to contain the menace of terrorism. This brought the discussions back on track and it was agreed that the chiefs of the border forces and the representatives of the Foreign Ministers may meet separately to identify the joint measures to be taken.
The day after my arrival (in India) I called on the Prime Minister...and gave him a detailed account of the talks. He was tickled when I told him about my rhetorical threat to 'catch them with their pants down' and he summoned half-a-dozen of his Cabinet colleagues to listen to the story, which I repeated before them, much to their amusement.