Mumbai, India, and Pakistan: This could get much worse


This could get much worse

One day after terrorists launched a series of well-coordinated and deadly attacks across Mumbai, news reports from that city continue to be chaotic and sometimes conflicting. What is clear is that more than 100 people have been murdered. Less certain is the identity and motivations of the attackers, who call themselves the “Deccan Mujahideen.” This is a previously unknown group whose name means holy warriors of the Deccan plateau region – a region covering most of southern India.

Some analysts have argued that the attacks, which appear to have lacked suicide bombings, do not bear the hallmarks of typical assaults by al-Qaeda. Witnesses said the assailants spoke Hindi and Urdu, at least one with a Kashmiri accent.

Several Indian Islamist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkat-ul Jihad have roots linking them to Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, although these links have reportedly become strained of late.

The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, however, has already said the attacks were coordinated “outside the country” – which can only mean Pakistan. “We will take up strongly with our neighbours that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated, and that there would be a cost if suitable measures are not taken by them.”

India and Pakistan almost went to war in 2001, after India blamed Pakistan for backing Kashmiri terrorists who attacked the Indian Parliament, killing twelve. The potential repercussions this time, in a standoff or conflict between two nuclear-armed neighbours, could not be more serious, and potentially tragic.