Text size

Click here for more articles by Yossi Melman

For an illustration of "dancing on one's grave," one need only look to Indian politicians reacting to the Mumbai terror attacks. Already on Friday, as special forces and naval units were fighting the terrorists and bodies were being taken out of the hotels and Chabad House, the nationalist BJP opposition published giant advertisements in local newspapers blaming the government, led by the Indian National Congress, for surrendering to terror and accusing it of being "unable and unwilling to deal with terrorism."

India is in the midst of an electoral process, clearly seen in Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his foreign minister's rushing to lay blame, hinting that Pakistan stands behind the attacks.

Indeed, there are sure signs pointing to a "Pakistani connection." Some of the terrorists are of Pakistani origin, and some arrived in Mumbai by sea in small boats, leading to the suspicion they were brought there by larger boats.

According to the Indian security services, some of the terrorists were linked to, and in the past operated with, the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was outlawed in Pakistan in 2003. The organization was created by Pakistan's influential spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, which over the years continued to support it and other Islamic groups.

The ISI and the Pakistani Army used the Islamic groups as a whip to weaken India as part of its strategy to return Kashmir to Pakistani sovereignty. The fact that the ISI essentially created the Taliban in Afghanistan indicates that the use of radical Islamist groups and violence as a means to an end is not foreign to Islamabad, but even the Pakistanis soon realized that the golem had turned on his creator. Pakistan has seen the rise recently of a Pakistani Taliban operating in the North-West Frontier Province that uses terrorism against the central government.

Even before that, former president Gen. Pervez Musharraf understood that he could not, as did his predecessors from the army, "dance at every wedding" by secretly aiding terror groups, while maintaining publicly that their hands were clean.

Amid pressure from the Indian government, and following the September 11 attacks and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan was ordered to take action against the terror groups. Many were outlawed, but were able to survive under different names and to continue receiving quiet support from current or former elements in the military and intelligence services.

Ultimately, many members of the Pakistani elite in both the army and intelligence have come to understand that they are playing with fire. The militant organizations rebelled against Musharraf himself, several times trying to assassinate him. Musharraf launched a campaign of forging ties and seeking compromises with India, and now Pakistan has, for the first time since Musharraf's 1999 coup, a democratically elected government.

The government of Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain president Benazir Bhutto (herself a victim of Pakistani terror, whose face has yet to be revealed), is making every effort to improve relations with India, and for the first time is trying to put an end to the bloody conflict that has persisted since the Subcontinent's partition in 1947. Zardari went one step further, telling India that Pakistan was willing to commit to never using its nuclear weapons. Just a few days before the Mumbai attacks, the two countries' interior ministers met in an attempt to advance cooperation in fighting terrorism.

While the Mumbai attacks raged, the Pakistani foreign minister was in Delhi, attending a similar meeting. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to believe the Pakistani government, army or intelligence services was officially or directly involved in the attacks.

It would not be in the interest of the Pakistani government, and it is conceivable that army or intelligence sources unhappy with Zardari's policy would secretly aid the terrorists not only to harm and undermine India, but also to compromise relations between the countries.

It is difficult to believe that official elements, even without government approval, aided the terrorists in preparing the meticulously planned terror operation, which is considered the worst in India's history.

Should the terrorists turn out to be "homegrown," that is, an Indian Muslim group seeking to harm the central government over its treatment of the 150 million-strong Muslim minority, there can be no doubt that this is a radical Islamic terror group whose roots lie in Pakistan, and that it seeks to undermine India as a country. Still more important is the fact that the group targeted hotels favored by Western tourists and a Jewish institution; it indicates this a group that derives inspiration from global jihad, that is, from the madrasa of Osama bin Laden.