India, Pakistan, the U.S. tread on Diplomatic Thin Ice

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Dec. 2 – India-Pakistan ties which were at the strongest ever just a few weeks ago have disintegrated since the terrorist attacks on Mumbai’s landmarks were traced back to Pakistan. Diplomatic tensions between the two countries have escalated with India having to negotiate and stand its ground extremely prudently. While cabinet meetings have been held in both New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve political tensions that have arisen as a result of the attacks, U.S. secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is also flying into Delhi to lend her support to India.

While global teams pour into India to help with the investigations Indian authorities realize they have to play their cards wisely. Besides national elections being around the corner, New Delhi also realizes it has to work together with Pakistan to weed out the terrorists. While tough measures need to be adopted in tough times, political analysts agree that this is not time for India to act in haste under popular pressure. At stake are two things, both close to India’s and the US’s interests—retaining a civilian government in Pakistan and maintaining the tempo of the war on terror. India’s future reactions therefore have to balance these with India’s natural desire for a tough response.

In the meanwhile, the Pakistani government in a bid to separate themselves from the terrorists is also seeking international assistance. In the last few years, Pakistan itself has been under stack from al Qaeda and its Islamist militant allies, with the biggest most recent attack being at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, killing 55. President Asif Ali Zardari's wife, two-time minister Benazir Bhutto is also believed to have been killed by extremists last year.

India has blamed "elements in Pakistan", and has as its prime suspect Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group that analysts say was supported by Pakistan's intelligence agency in the past.