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Editorial in the Guardian: India's 9/11

The attacks in Mumbai were as horrific in scale and as cold in execution as the bombings of Madrid or London. This was India's September 11. It was of a different order from other mass assaults on civilians that India has suffered - the attack on its parliament, the bombings of trains and crowded market places. The attackers arrived in commando boats from a mother ship: they shot up a crowded railway station and hospital, before targeting Americans, Britons and Jews. Military-style planning had gone into an operation designed to soak the glitziest haunts of India's richest city in pools of blood.

Indians had every right to be angry yesterday, and their first reaction was to point the finger at Pakistan. The Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, said the attackers had "external linkages". Whoever planned this barbarous assault made the central security challenge of this century brutally clear. Weak states, or sub-state groups operating from within their territory, have become bigger security risks than strong ones, as a report sponsored by the left-leaning thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research said yesterday. That shakes the central assumption of post-cold-war world: that nuclear deterrence is a sound basis on which the long-term security strategy of the world rests.

Whether the attackers came from Pakistan or not, the slaughter in Mumbai is likely to have immediate regional consequences. Just a month after coming to power, Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, launched a major - and to some ears risky - attempt to restart the peace process that his country and India began in 2004. He said India had "never been a threat" and described Islamic militants in Kashmir as terrorists. His words were greeted as eagerly by India as they were condemned by anonymous sources within the Pakistani army, which - after three wars and six decades of hostility - sees as fundamental the need to protect itself from India. Mr Zardari was right to attempt to pacify his eastern front to deal with the major threat facing his nation, militants operating in the tribal areas in the west. But it is not difficult to see how Islamic militants could use a major attack on India to disrupt a rapprochement between two nuclear powers - all the more so because the first two phases of elections in Kashmir appear to be passing off peacefully...

Read entire article at Guardian (UK)