Mumbai attacks threaten India-Pakistan relations - Asia - World - The Independent

Mumbai attacks threaten India-Pakistan relations

Asia-watchers fear that recent tentative improvements in relations between India and Pakistan could be reversed by the Mumbai attacks.

The two nuclear-armed states have been to war three times since the partition of India in 1947 and the threat of further military conflict is ever present.

Many experts say homegrown Indian Islamic extremists are likely to be behind the Mumbai massacre, albeit possibly with support from foreign groups.

But New Delhi has pointed the finger at its troubled neighbour.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday blamed "external forces" for the violence, a phrase which many have taken to mean Pakistani militants.

India's foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, claimed today that "elements in Pakistan" were behind the attacks.

Worsening Indian-Pakistani relations are bad for everyone - apart from the radical Islamists who would like to topple established governments in South Asia and the Middle East.

Not only could simmering tensions in the disputed region of Kashmir - which is currently undergoing elections - rise to the surface once again.

Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, could also be seriously destabilised if credible evidence emerges suggesting the Mumbai terrorists were backed by the Pakistani intelligence services.

Mr Zardari has worked on improving relations with India since being elected in September, and even offered to introduce a "no first strike" nuclear policy at the weekend.

Pakistan has also just disbanded the political wing of the military-run Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

But the Pakistani state does not pull in one direction, and the political leadership, army and intelligence services often pursue conflicting agendas.

In the past the ISI has been accused of supporting Islamist militants in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

And insurgents linked to the Taliban and al Qaida continue to hide in Pakistan's tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Mr Zardari's authority would be severely weakened if it could be proved that ISI elements had helped those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

There is no suggestion that he might be involved himself, but it would bolster fears that he is not in full control of the Pakistani state.

In a country that has suffered a series of military coups and has a bubbling Islamist insurgency, this would be a worrying development.

This is one reason why Pakistan has been so eager to work with the Indian authorities.

Today it announced the head of the ISI would be sent to India to help investigate the Mumbai attacks.

But there is also a hint of defensiveness in Islamabad's response to the terror.

Pakistan's defence minister Ahmed Mukhtar condemned the attacks but pleaded: "We should not be blamed like in the past."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week