NEW DELHI -- Former Home Minister P Chidambaram has said the recent Nagrota attack is as 'shameful' as the 2008 Mumbai carnage and has 'disproved' the belief that surgical strikes can end cross-border terrorism.
Speaking at the launch of former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon's book, titled "Choices: Inside the making of India's foreign policy', Chidambaram said there was no 'unified command' at the level of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
"What happened at Nagrota is just as shameful as what happened in Mumbai. The cross-border, cross-LoC action will not prevent Pakistan-based terrorist groups from attacking Indian installations and camps," he said last night.
"The strikes restore balance at the border. It sends a signal to Pakistan that if you can do it we can do it. But to imagine that surgical strike will put an end to cross-border action, that has been disproved by what has happened in Nagrota," he said.
He claimed that there was 'no coherence' at the level of MHA and attributed it to discontinuation of a 'good practice'.
"I think the practice of having a Home Minister, home secretary, the special secretary, the DIB, the director RAW and NSA meet every day was a good practice. The practice has stopped. That is why there is no coherence, no coordination, no unified command at the level of home affairs," he said.
Noting that engaging Pakistan is the 'only answer' that India has, Chidambaram said the present government started at one extreme and has now swung to another extreme.
"The first extreme was over-enthusiasm and the second is their own making. Eventually you have to live with your neighbours. The only answer is to engage Pakistan through trade, cultural exchanges or people to people exchanges," he said.
About surgical strikes, Chidambaram said the ownership should have been left to the army.
"First, the ownership should have been left to the army like we have in the past. Second, we should not make statements like 'Pakistan called us yesterday and begged us to stop' or make statements like 'I will gouge their eyes'. These statements make us a laughing stock.
"Our cross-border strikes do not deter Pakistan sufficiently. There are other options that can be explored.
Going public about surgical strikes limits your options," he said at the launch which was also attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He said though India's response to 26/11 attacks was 'extremely poor', it gained 'enormously' by choosing not to retaliate militarily.
"Our capacity to respond was extremely poor. It took us three to four days to clear three to four terrorists holed up in a hotel. Retaliation was not an option. Neither desirable nor feasible at that point of time. India gained enormously by not retaliating. By the time the UPA stepped down, Pakistan had been virtually isolated...What we now witness are daring attacks on Army camps... One must measure the efficacy of a policy by its outcomes. The ceasefire along the LoC did produce an outcome," Chidambaram said.
About the deteriorating security situation in Kashmir, he said his government's policies brought several years of 'relative peace and tranquillity' in the Valley, but 'all that lie shattered today'.
"Origin of this decline is the completely unethical, unacceptable coalition between two parties that were bitterly opposed to each other. That is the greatest provocation in the Valley. As long as that unethical combination remains, I can't see any way forward in Kashmir," he said.
Also on HuffPost India.