Andrew Buncombe: Attacks still cast a lengthy shadow over regional politics

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The Independent Online

Despite a meeting last week at a regional summit between the leaders of Pakistan and India and a slight melting of the diplomatic ice, the relationship between South Asia's nuclear-armed neighbours has still not returned to the position it was at when Ajmal Kasab and his accomplices unleashed deadly chaos. Even now, the so-called composite dialogue – designed to be a forum to discuss everything from Kashmir to water-sharing – has not been reinitiated.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the civilian leadership in Islamabad made seemingly genuine efforts to co-operate with India, with President Asif Ali Zardari even suggesting – until his idea was quickly shot down by the Pakistani military – that the head of the ISI intelligence agency fly to Delhi to help the investigation.

But matters quickly soured. As the alleged interrogation testimony of Kasab was leaked to the Indian media, there was intense discussion as to whether "state" or "non-state" actors were behind the attacks. Confronted by widespread anger, India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, opted to believe Mr Zardari and the evidence placed before him and chose a more moderate path, using international allies to put pressure on Pakistan to act.

To some degree it has. Seven alleged members of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are on trial in Rawalpindi while another court has said there is no evidence to hold the group's supposed leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Meanwhile, a charity he runs – described by the UN as a front for LeT – is still fully operational. There are also still questions as to the precise relationship between LeT and elements within the Pakistan military.

For a relationship that has been marked by suspicion and hostility ever since the two countries were created with the partition of British India, the events of 26/11 were another setback for those hoping for better. For now, there has not been a repeat of what happened that day. Should there be, the consequences would be hard to bear. For everyone.