The bloody terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, have the potential to cascade across the region. If Pakistan's army and intelligence service, which have long supported anti-India terrorist groups, are deemed responsible for the attacks, the results could be catastrophic.
In 2001, an attack on the Indian parliament, carried out by Pakistan-based Islamist terrorists, brought the two countries to the brink of nuclear war.
This time, even if it doesn't go that far, the results could be far deadlier than the attacks themselves, which killed more than a hundred people. The assault could upend the peace process now underway between Pakistan and India. That, in turn, would strengthen the hand of Pakistan's military establishment, which is already brooding about the new civilian government that replaced President Musharraf, the army dictator. And the army could use the renewed tension to redouble its alliance with radical-right, anti-Indian Muslim groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan. By doing so, the idea of negotiations between various Islamists components of the Taliban movement, on one hand, and the civilian governments of President Karzai in Afghanistan and President Zardari in Pakistan, on the other, might be put on indefinite hold.