On July 11,
terrorists attacked the transportation network in Mumbai, India,
killing and wounding hundreds, possibly more than a thousand. A
grenade attack against a bus earlier in the day killed five people
in Kashmir and raised suspicions of a coordinated attack across the
country. Though there was no initial claim of responsibility for
either attack, it is very likely, given the recent history of the
region, that Islamic terrorist groups are responsible. It
appears unlikely that Pakistan had any direct or indirect
involvement in these attacks. For the United States, the most
important geopolitical concern arising from these events is to
ensure the Pakistan-India border dialogue continues productively
despite the attacks.
Pakistan actively supported terrorist groups in Kashmir, claiming
they were Kashmiri "freedom fighters." As late as December 2001,
terrorists attacked India's parliament and killed seven people.
Since then, President Musharraf has withdrawn his support from
international terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and,
presumably, shut down their operations. Nonetheless, India
has remained deeply suspicious of Pakistan.
2003, a cease-fire has held between India and Pakistan, and
diplomatic progress has also been steady. A year after the
cease-fire, India felt safe enough to begin withdrawing troops from
the border. In February 2005, New Delhi and Islamabad launched bus
service across the cease-fire line; train service followed a year
later. In October 2005, India and Pakistan signed a security accord
promising advance warning of ballistic missile tests, and they both
committed to unilateral moratoriums on nuclear weapon tests.
Although final resolution to the question of Kashmir seems distant,
there appears to be little desire for a return to military
The perception of
a renewed terrorist campaign, however, could upset the delicate
peace process. Indian police will investigate those responsible for
the bombing, and if they suspect Pakistani involvement, the attacks
could have the collateral damage of disrupting border dialogue and
escalating tensions between two nuclear powers.
comprehending the gravity of the situation, Pakistan immediately
condemned the attacks in the strongest language and called them a
"despicable act of terrorism." Probably no other country has more
to lose from renewed hostility than Pakistan. India is
substantially larger and wealthier than Pakistan. The development
of a nuclear weapon deterrent was extremely expensive, and Pakistan
has no wish to engage in an arms race with its giant neighbor.
Furthermore, American suspicion of Pakistani involvement with
international terrorism would unravel all of Pakistan's efforts to
reform its economy and garner American security assistance.
There is plenty of
reason to suspect that this attack was the work of terrorist groups
not associated with Pakistan. The style of multiple bombs is very
reminiscent of the Madrid and London bombings, both of which were
the work of al Qaeda affiliate organizations. Further, al Qaeda has
been trying for many years to recruit operatives among the India
Muslim population. This attack could mean they finally have a cell
operating in India.
policymakers the most important priority will be to call for clear
thinking in New Delhi and Islamabad to preserve the Pakistan-India
border dialogue. Washington must act to head-off any escalation of
tension or any war-of-words between the two capitals. Indian
security forces are capable of tracking down the terrorists that
perpetuated this attack. The United States should assist when asked
and encourage Pakistan to share any information India requests that
might lead to the capture and liquidation of this terrorist
Dillon is Senior Policy Analyst for Southeast
Asia in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage