Is India playing its hand well over Mumbai?
It has been a tense game of poker between India and Pakistan since the Mumbai attacks. On the face of it, India had the much stronger hand — not least because it captured one of the attackers alive and got him to confess to being trained in Pakistan.
But has it played its cards well?
That allowed Pakistan to cloud the issue and raise the spectre of an Indian military strike — neatly uniting the country behind the army and against India.
One former foreign secretary told me India had made a mistake on those initial days, by making a threat it was not prepared to carry out and allowing Pakistan the chance to play the victim.
Since then, New Delhi has been much more restrained and cautious in what it has said, admirably so according to diplomats and analysts I have spoken to. On Monday it presented its carefully complied dossier of evidence to Pakistan and other countries.
But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised the stakes again this week by suggesting that the Pakistani “agencies” must have known about and supported the plan to attack Mumbai.
Pakistan has once again pounced on this claim, accusing Singh of engaging in a propaganda war.
Last year India had the backing of the U.S. in its allegation that the ISI was involved in the attack on its embassy in Kabul.
But this time around, diplomatic sources say New Delhi has yet to prove to them that the ISI was involved.
“In their oral presentation, Indian officials told the envoys of their belief that the ISI was indeed involved in the incident,” Siddharth Varadarajan wrote in the Hindu newspaper.
“Thought his claim was not contested, at least one nation, the United States, has told India it is still not in a position to share this perception.”
I wonder now if Singh might have overplayed his hand again. Should he have stuck to what can be proved in a court of law, so that he retains the moral high ground and gives Pakistan no room to wriggle out?
Or is he simply saying what everybody knows — that the ISI has links to extreme Islamist groups and must have at least known this attack was being planned?