No, Pakistan Is Not Off the Hook

Even if the speculation about this week’s Mumbai attacks is true, Islamabad still has some explaining to do.

BY SHASHANK JOSHI

When three bombs tore through Mumbai on the rain-drenched summer’s evening of July 13, more than a few people in windowless Washington, D.C., offices probably stopped eating their breakfasts, their hearts beating a little faster. If the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had hit the city once more, the beleaguered government in Delhi, sensing post-Abbottabad opportunities, might have felt compelled to strike out across the border.

As nameless Indian and American officials began hinting in anonymous press leaks that the "domestic" Indian Mujahideen (IM) was the more probable perpetrator, sighs of relief might have followed. Yes, this would be one more in the string of attacks that have killed 700 Mumbaikars since 1993, but its fallout would be wholly contained within India.

This complacency is unwarranted, however. It is true that the IM’s distance from the Pakistani military establishment means that there will be no standoff like that of 2001-02, when India mobilized half a million men to the border. The IM’s all-Indian membership and leadership, and its presence across the country, would seem to suggest that it’s a purely domestic problem.

But it is no less important to understand that the group has flourished by plugging itself into transnational jihadi networks, enjoying the patronage of Pakistan-backed groups like LeT, which in turn remain the most serious threats to regional stability. Pakistan doesn’t get off the hook so easily.

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