Jeremy Page, Tom Coghlan and Zahid Hussain
Monday, Dec 01, 2008
The carnage may have been an attempt to put Pakistan and India at each other’s throats and kill US hopes for the region.
Relations between India and Pakistan were on a knife edge last night amid fears that Delhi’s response to the Mumbai attacks could undermine the Pakistani army’s campaign against Islamic militants on the frontier with Afghanistan.
Officials and analysts in the region believe that last week’s atrocities were designed to provoke a crisis, or even a war, between the nuclear-armed neighbours, diverting Islamabad’s attention from extremism in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and thus relieving pressure on al-Qaeda, Taleban and other militants based there.
One analyst even described the attacks as a “pre-emptive strike” against Barack Obama’s strategy to put Pakistan and Afghanistan at the centre of US foreign policy.
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The United States and its allies now face a balancing act in supporting India’s efforts to investigate the Mumbai attacks, without jeopardizing Pakistan’s crucial support for the Nato campaign in Afghanistan.
India’s government, facing an election by May, is under enormous pressure to respond to the attacks, which it believes was carried out by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, possibly with the help of al Qaeda.
Lashkar-e-Taiba was also blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001, which prompted India and Pakistan to mass troops on each other’s border, almost triggering their fourth war since independence in 1947.
This article was posted: Monday, December 1, 2008 at 12:02 pm