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India Blasts Threaten Peace

Prepared by: Esther Pan
July 13, 2006


Shaken by its deadliest terrorist attack in more than a decade, India has begun a sweep for suspects. Suspicion has fallen on a Pakistan-based group that has fought for Kashmiri separatism, raising concerns the incident could threaten the fragile peace process between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan (CSMonitor).

On July 11, a series of coordinated bombings hit the train system of India's financial capital, Mumbai, killing more than 200 (LAT). India detained more than 350 people for questioning and then named two suspects (AP). The Indian intelligence agency is also investigating reports of an al-Qaeda link to the attack (NYT). Governments around the world, including that of Pakistan, condemned the attack. The Guardian summed up world opinion, saying "the indiscriminate mass murder of innocent people is terrorism, pure and simple. It can never be justified."

Indian security officials almost immediately focused suspicions on Lashkar-e Taiba, one of many Islamic rebel groups fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir. The group has been blamed by police for a number of past attacks on Indian soil, including nearly a dozen attacks in Mumbai since 1997. Seen as the most sophisticated of the militant organizations fighting to wrest Kashmir from India, Lashkar-e Taiba has been accused of receiving operational and financial support from Pakistan.

Kashmir—the mountainous region between the two nations—has been disputed since India and Pakistan were partitioned by Britain in 1947, and has caused two of the three Indian-Pakistani wars. The dispute over the region brought the two countries to the brink of another war in 2002. In The Hindu, Praveen Swami writes that the train bombings are part of a war between Kashmir separatists and India that has no visible end. While the Kashmir issue is unlikely to derail India's economic and political rise, its potential to spark a nuclear war between India and Pakistan demands that the conflict be resolved, writes India expert Sumit Ganguly in Foreign Affairs.

The relationship between India and Pakistan had been warming after decades of mutual suspicion. Peace talks between the two nations began in 2004 and were due to resume this month. But The Hindu and other Indian papers are now calling for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to exert more pressure on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to stop his country's support for terror groups that attack India. Singh has repeatedly said Pakistan must honor its agreement not to let its territory be used for terrorist attacks against India. But Pakistani officials heatedly denied any involvement in the train attacks (VOA).

The Times of India said the attacks must not be allowed to stoke violence between Hindus and Muslims, as has happened in the past.

The stakes could hardly be higher between the two countries. The Natural Resources Defense Council offers a sobering look at what a potential nuclear conflict between the two states would look like. And the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists profiles the nuclear arsenals of India and Pakistan.

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