Reliable Security Information

A Pakistan Connection?

With the latest accusations from India that the militants who attacked its financial capital, Mumbai, on November 26 belonged to a Pakistani militant group, tensions between South Asia's nuclear-armed neighbors are mounting yet again. Indian security officials say one of the captured attackers revealed under questioning that he was from Pakistan's Punjab province, belonged to the extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and had been trained in militant camps inside Pakistan (Hindu). This could implicate Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). which experts say in the past backed the LeT to fight in Indian-administered Kashmir. LeT has denied any responsibility for the attacks.

Pakistan's government also denied any role in the attacks and has asked the Indian authorities to share evidence on the identity of the assailants. The country's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi promised government action (The News) against any group within Pakistan's borders found to be involved in the Mumbai attacks. Experts fear, however, that the neighbors may move troops to the border (WSJ) in a replay of December 2001, when New Delhi'saccusations against Pakistan for an attack on the Indian parliament nearly resulted in war.

In the 2001 flare up, Washington played a significant role diffusing tensions by formally acknowledging links between Kashmiri terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and the Pakistani state. Washington's addition of LeT to its Foreign Terrorist Organizations List in 2002 forced former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to ban the group inside Pakistan. But as this Backgrounder notes, the group continues to operate freely inside the country. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who travels to India on December 3, said Washington is emphasizing to the Pakistani government "the need to follow the evidence...

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