- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2005

The recent terrorist attacks in India indicate that the October earthquake that devastated some jihadist-rich areas in India and Pakistan has not incapacitated the militant groups. On Oct. 29, India suffered its most lethal attack, outside of the embattled region of Kashmir, in the past 12 years. On Wednesday, terrorists targeted the swearing-in ceremony of Ghulam Nabi Azad as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, killing six, mostly policemen. The strikes left a tragic human toll and threaten geopolitical interests.

On Oct. 29, bombers detonated explosives in some of New Delhi’s crowded markets as Hindu families busily prepared for Diwali, the festival of lights, killing about 60. The bombing fits an international pattern of terrorist attacks, spanning Madrid, London and Bali. The strike has differed from past attacks in India, which have wantonly killed civilians, but did not target them, aiming instead at more strategic targets, such the December 2001 assault on the parliament building in Delhi.

In wake of the catastrophic October earthquake, many observers reasoned that India and Pakistan would be jolted toward greater cooperation and improved relations. Indeed, the two countries are taking the significant step Monday of opening crossing points along the defacto border in the disputed Kashmir region. This will allow the Kashmiri people to visit their bereaved relatives on either side of the so-called Line of Control. The recent terrorist attacks, though, have already strained relations between the two nuclear-armed countries. The earthquakes destroyed some terrorist camps in Kashmir but also gave militants the opportunity to administer to stricken families with medical help and food, before the state or private relief organizations reached them.

In a conversation with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made clear that he holds a Pakistani group responsible for the attack in New Delhi. There were “indications that the bomb blasts had links with militant groups in Pakistan,” Mr. Singh said, and reminded Mr. Musharraf of his pledge to crackdown on terror training camps. Gen. Musharraf said he will cooperate with any investigation into the attacks.

The ongoing Indian-Pakistan peace talks are central to regional security and U.S. counterterror interests. By defusing tensions, the two countries can begin to spend less on military buildups and more on development and public education, which would rival the influence of Islamic schools that are the ideological launching pad to terrorism.

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