Pakistan-India relations in focus

Relations between neighbours once again under strain in wake of Mumbai attacks.

Indian army soldiers at the Taj Mahal Hotel
As the dust settles from the Mumbai attacks, attention is focusing on possible motives [AFP]

In the immediate aftermath of the co-ordinated, deadly attacks on Mumbai, India’s financial centre,  analysts are considering  how India’s relationship will fare with its neighbour Pakistan.

Experts gave Al Jazeera their views.

Kanwal Sibal, former Indian foreign secretary

He [Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister] has in the past tried to steer away from direct accusations against Pakistan, but this time the evidence has been so clear that he was constrained to say [that elements in Pakistan may have been involved] in public.

As prime minister, Singh has done a lot to try and steer India-Pakistan relations in a peaceful direction and he has invested a lot of political capital in this. With the Mumbai attacks I think all that has unravelled. He is now confronting the stark 
reality that all this has not worked and India has effectively been stabbed in the back.

These attacks have caused a lot of devastation and mayhem and we have been put in an extremely difficult situation, where on the one hand we need to respond – we must respond, otherwise we lay ourselves open to more such attacks in the future. 
On the other hand, we also want the democratic government in Pakistan to survive and we do not want the armed forces to come back.

Therefore, it is not in our interest that India-Pakistan tensions should build up to a point where the Pakistani military comes back in great force and steps back into the business of governing.

Assad Durrani, ex-Director-General of Pakistan’s intelligence agency

I heard that India would be prepared to share their intelligence with Pakistan, so that is already a positive move, because that has been a problem in the past.

In most cases, if I recall correctly, it turned out that either they did not have any good proof or someone else was responsible.

I also know of evidence that can be very well prepared and manufactured.

Khalid Rahman, Director, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad

I think every Pakistani is sharing the kind of grief and sorrow as Indians are feeling. But within a few hours of the attacks, the finger of blame was pointed at Pakistan, as it has been in the past. Nobody knows what the evidence is right now.

I think this kind of attitude really diverts the attention of so many dimensions of the issue. It is causing a great problem as far the so-called war on terror is concerned.

I do not think there is any truth in the suggestion that Pakistan’s government is involved, because Pakistan has itself been a victim of so many terrorist attack in the last few years.

The Pakistani government and its people are not in such a mood that they would think in these terms.

I would suggest that this should be taken as an opportunity. If the Pakistani government is ready to co-operate with India in sharing intelligence, it should be taken as an opportunity for the countries to talk to each other rather than using the media to create doubts [about Pakistan] when there is no evidence.

Kuldip Nayar, former Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

I can’t say for certain whether Pakistan was involved. But the India foreign minister has said [the attackers] came from Pakistan, and that a boat [on which the attackers apparently travelled to Mumbai] came from Karachi. That has led to some basic suspicion in India.

The Indian government has said that some elements in Pakistan carried out the attack, but they have not said the Pakistani government was involved.

Both governments will be talking now, and a representative from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is set to visit India.

I think the incidents in Mumbai are going to decide the future of India-Pakistan relations. If there is no concrete evidence against Pakistan or the ISI, then we must set up a joint mechanism so that both countries can fight terrorism together.

If a Pakistani [state] hand is found, I think relations between the two countries will deteriorate very rapidly.

Brigadier Shaukat Qadir, military analyst, Islamabad

India started pointing fingers as soon as the attack began, which was a little premature. But the sheer boldness and simplicity of the entire attack seem to point towards al-Qaeda.

If al-Qaeda has carried out the attack, it would be unfair to put the blame on Pakistan.

Islamabad is under pressure anyway, because of the problem along Pakistan’s western border (with Afghanistan). The last thing Pakistan would want is a problem on the eastern border as well.

The Indian authorities first said that over 100 people were involved in the attacks in Mumbai and they then kept on reducing the number. The last I heard was that about two dozen attackers were involved.

That would be the minimum amount required to attack nine different [targets in the city]. They would have to have had intimate knowledge of the situation on the ground, as well as knowledge of the laxity of the security forces [in Mumbai].

Ajai Sahni, Director, Institute of Conflict Management, New Delhi

There has been confirmation of at least one Pakistani national that was involved in the Mumbai attacks. There may be some facilitators or participators from India, but that would once again take us back to training facilitation and mobilisation by Pakistani based groups.

The Pakistani state has had a very long history of direct sponsorship to terrorism, particularly targeted against India, including the group under suspicion, the LashkareTiyaba, a group supported by the Pakistani establishment.

I don’t think there is good faith at a rapprochement with Pakistan because good faith in any rapprochement between the principle sponsor of terrorism and its principle victim does not exist.

There seems to be a certain quality of resignation in the Indian establishment in that we still have to keep talking to those in charge in Pakistan because India does not have any other options. I don’t agree with that, but that regrettably is the prevailing mindset.

I expect further attacks. Unless India generates the capacity to neutralise the source and network of this kind of terrorism across India, then we will continue to suffer large fatalities as we have in the most recent case.

Source: Al Jazeera