Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fragile state

India and America want Pakistan to fight terrorism harder

It is difficult to overestimate the extent to which the terrorist attack on Mumbai has complicated the outlook for Pakistan's relations with both India and the US. Whether or not conclusive evidence emerges of Pakistani complicity in the attack, the damage to relations with India has already been done, and the challenge will now be to ensure that hostilities do not escalate further. Meanwhile, the Mumbai attack will ensure that the US increases its already-destabilising pressure on Pakistan to deal with locally-based terrorist groups.

The biggest immediate risk is that India could decide to launch a retaliatory attack on militant training camps either in Pakistan-administered Kashmir or in Pakistan proper. On the plus side, government-level relations between India and Pakistan are much stronger than they have been in the past. Thus far the Pakistani administration has shown commendable restraint; the president, Asif Ali Zardari, has expressed in unusually forthright terms a desire not to let the current situation derail the ongoing process of normalising bilateral relations. ...