Mumbai Attack and the Aftermath

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Context

As Pakistan tries to secure mediation and resolution of the Kashmir issue, India is exerting every effort to link the Kashmir Jihadis with AQ and terrorism – so as to make the dispute obsolete under the rules of the Global War on Terrorism. This is a do-or-die situation for both India and Pakistan. For the U.S., GWOT is priority number one; anything related to it raises red alerts in Washington. India, with its newfound economic prowess and global status, cannot swallow a meager Pakistan standing in its way.

Through Mumbai Attack, India is attempting to create a perception that the Pakistan Army and its intelligence organization, ISI, are out of control. India wants to reinforce the perspective developed by NATO and the U.S. in Afghanistan: dealing with Pakistan and terrorism ultimately would require a multinational approach. Meanwhile NATO is going to use the India leverage to obtain Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan.

Whether the civilian government and the Army of Pakistan can control the terrorists and militants is a question that everyone wants answered. The role of ISI is implicit in the answer. The Mumbai Attack has raised the stakes for Pakistan, particularly if the perception of multilateral response develops into a U.S. and international perspective. Pakistan confronts a grave situation; country links struggle for Kashmir with the ideology of Pakistan and cannot appear to be giving in.

Pakistan, on the other hand, well understands its pivotal role and significance in the GWOT. Faced with this threat, it is bound to use all means at its disposal. It has taken pains to explain to the world that the country itself is a victim of terrorism and needs help in building its capacity and capability to counter this menace. Mumbai Attacks and India’s response to the attack has strengthened Pakistan’s position; India remains a threat to Pakistan’s existence.

From Pakistan’s point of view, it will not hand the U.S. another victory — the previous one being the Cold War — without something significant in return. What is the U.S. willing to do for Pakistan in return for an honorable exit from Afghanistan? At least a resolution of the Kashmir issue should be in the cards. The U.S. cannot keep pampering India with strategic deals and expect full support from Pakistan. President Obama’s statements regarding the appointment of the Kashmir Envoy is along these lines. The Grand Bargain, as Ahmed Rashid recently wrote, is in the making. India cannot allow this, and the Mumbai Attack fits in this perspective, whoever was behind it.

What the U.S. and the West is trying to do is set the stage for negotiations on the Afghan front and to balance properly the various parties’ leverages and positions. Meanwhile Pakistan, with all its contradictions, is sending subliminal messages – no one can win in Afghanistan without its support and, therefore, its interests should be supported and advanced.

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