- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pakistani citizens’ fingerprints are showing up in the recent terrorist strikes in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, drawing international attention to the Pakistani government’s inability to establish law and order within its own borders.

The rampage that led to hundreds killed or wounded emanates from a terrorist organization operating within Pakistan known as Lashkar-e-Taiba. India is demanding the extradition of 20 suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders and members. Pakistan must cooperate fully with the investigation and bring the alleged culprits to justice. Its very credibility as a viable state is at stake.

Indian authorities are now uncovering the local and international network that launched the three-day siege. A satellite phone found on the fishing trawler that the terrorists hijacked in Karachi reveals that the terrorists communicated with Yusuf Muzammil and four other Lashkar leaders. Also, the sole captured terrorist confessed that he and his nine cohorts were trained in a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Kashmir. They recruited Indian Muslims such as convicted extremist Faheem Ahmed Ansari to help craft their murderous plot; other Indian sympathizers provided safe havens along the way.

Lashkar-e-Taiba or “Army of the Good” established itself 15 years ago to fight India in Kashmir. It has since expanded operations and waged several assaults on India in an attempt to establish Islamic rule. Despite being outlawed in Pakistan in 2002, it continues to function; it reportedly has links to Pakistan’s intelligence agency and militants all over the country, and has great political influence.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said that the Mumbai attack does not have Pakistani-state sponsorship. However, the network of terrorists, intelligence services operators and an often ineffective civilian government renders this distinction increasingly irrelevant. Certainly this is the perspective of Pakistan’s neighbors, which are demanding justice and security.

The Pakistani government is making headway in bringing some order to its troublesome western border with Afghanistan, but Pakistan’s commitment to anti-terrorism and justice remains questionable. Even the usually multilateralist President-elect Barack Obama declared Monday that India “would be within its rights if it took retaliatory action against militants hiding inside Pakistan.” While such military action is not yet warranted - and would play into the hands of terrorist organizations that thrive on violence - the sentiments expressed reflect a growing international consensus that unless Pakistan brings its criminal elements to heel, foreign intervention will eventually be necessary.