Higher Tension 

Terror, terror and more terror - if it's not an attack, it's the fear of one that has crippled normal life in India. It's extremely angering, and tiring.

The latest is a warning of a 9/11 type of attack. Terrorists are believed to be plotting hijackings similar to what was done in the U.S. You can imagine what the airports in India must be like right now. Travel, needless to say, has turned into a nightmare.

Also, hard as it is for civilians, the Indian police has its hands full too. On the one hand, there's the fear of another attack, and on the other, the hard task of piecing together the puzzle of the Mumbai killings. In all the evidence gathered so far, and there is a lot, one thing consistently stands out - a Pakistani link; no matter what the trail, it finally leads to Pakistan.

It's a complicated problem, since terrorism, especially in Pakistan has various, interconnected layers. It is particularly difficult to parse out the nexus between the terrorists, the intelligence and the army. The Laskhar-e-Toiba, or the LeT, is one of the most active militant groups based in Pakistan; it's believed to have many splinter groups operating under different names, with one common aim - to kill and create terror in India. Most Indians, of course, believe, especially right now, that the state shares this aim and is fully aware, if not involved, in the attacks against India.

This feeling is not without reason. India says it now has proof that the Pakistani Intelligence agency, the ISI, was involved in the recent attacks, something that could not possibly have happened, say experts, without the complicity of, at least, the top brass in the army. In addition, ISI's link with militants, especially the Al Qaeda, is pretty much an open secret. India, like the rest of the world, wonders how Pakistan can brazenly deny what's so clear to outside observers. The Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has said the U.S. had enough evidence that reveals such a link.

Pakistan's steadfast denial - the most recent statements from President Asif Ali Zardari, on Larry King Live calling the men who attacked Mumbai "stateless actors" - is particularly galling. It is more than evident that the country is home to a deadly mix of militants, terrorists and extremists and that they thrive openly. So, even if one is to believe that the state is not directly involved, it is a bit much to expect the world to believe that "stateless actors" are causing all this carnage and that the government is in no way responsible for their actions. After all, the only terrorist to be caught alive in the Mumbai, 21-year- old Azam Amir Kasav, a resident of Pakistan, revealed that he, along with the others, had trained intensively at the LeT base in Pakistan, and that he had been personally briefed about the targets by Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, one of the top honchos of the LeT.

One may be willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the new civilian government in Pakistan, or even understand that they are faced with a real problem - of weeding out the extremists and detangling the nexus between its security agencies and the militants - but only if their intent appears real. Blankly denying any links is not going to help its cause.

What would help, for starters, is if Zardari actually handed over those on India's most wanted list; this, in itself, would allay a lot of fears and suspicions. If Pakistan truly is, as it claims, keen on helping India fight terror, it could take a solid first step in that direction with this one act.

Copyright © 2007, SteelWill, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Spot On is a trademark of SteelWill, Inc.

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