‘Smoking gun’ to harm Pakistan-India ties, fear US experts

November 29th, 2008 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaIslamabad, Nov 29 (IANS) US anti-terrorism experts have warned that “a smoking gun” in the Mumbai terror attacks could not only derail Pakistan-India talks but also jeopardise Islamabad’s ties with Washington.Christine Fair, a South Asia affairs analyst for US think-tank RAND Corporation, said the attacks had raised several questions: Was Pakistan involved? What type of Pakistani involvement was there? Did anyone in the government know?

Dawn newspaper Saturday quoted Fair as warning that “if there is a smoking gun,” it would have serious repercussions for US-Pakistan and Pakistan-India relations.

“The attacks will increase pressure on the incoming Obama administration to be tough on Pakistan,” she warned.

Bruce Riedel, a former South Asia analyst for the CIA and the US National Security Council who now advises President-elect Barack Obama, agreed.

“This is a new, horrific milestone in the global jihad,” he told The Washington Post.

“No indigenous Indian group has this level of capability. The goal is to damage the symbol of India’s economic renaissance, undermine investor confidence and provoke an India-Pakistan crisis.”

Terrorists who Indian officials say came from Pakistan by the sea entered Mumbai Wednesday night and struck at 10 centres, eventually taking control of the Taj hotel, Oberoi-Trident hotel and a Jewish centre. The mayhem has claimed 152 lives and left over 300 injured before Indian commandos killed all the terrorists.

Fair, however, believed that the attacks were apparently carried out by indigenous Indian militants with some outside support.

“This isn’t India’s 9/11. This is India’s Oklahoma City,” said Fair, referring to an April 1995 domestic attack in the US that left 168 people dead.

“It is almost unimaginable that this could have been done entirely by outside militants without Indian involvement; implications are very dangerous,” she told Dawn.

“There are a lot of “very, very angry Muslims in India. The economic disparities are startling,” she said. “This is a major domestic political challenge for India”.

“You have Islamist militants in India and you have a militarised Hindu right; these are small numbers but they feed on each other, without one the other will be difficult to exist,” she said.

Gary Ackerman, a pro-India Democratic Congressman from New York, worried about the Mumbai attacks’ implications for the US.

“The implication for us is that there are bad guys still out there, and we’re going to have to learn how to deal with them, because our friends are getting sucked into this big-time,” said Congressman Ackerman, who chairs the House subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

One highly placed US intelligence official, who has been briefed on the attacks, told CNN that the head of the operation was a Bangladeshi and that the militants were Indians, Kashmiris and Bangladeshis.

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