One week after bombs ripped through commuter trains in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, the carnage has finally been tallied: 182 people killed and 900 injured. That puts the atrocity on par with the 2004 Madrid metro attacks. It makes Mumbai worse than the London bombings, whose anniversary was observed earlier this month. Nor were the dead the only casualties.
On July 15 India told Pakistan that a meeting due later in July between their foreign secretaries had been shelved. “We said the environment is not conducive for talks,” said a Foreign Ministry official in New Delhi.
India’s gripe is that the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks were “supported by elements across the border,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Pakistan’s counter is there is no substance to the charge. Rather, says Islamabad, India is responding to comments made by Pakistan’s foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, in the wake of the bombings.
Condemning the attacks as “absolutely horrendous,” Kasuri said “the Mumbai incident underlines the need for the two countries to work together to control this environment, but they can only do so if they resolve their dispute.” The Indian Foreign Ministry was outraged that Kasuri’s “remarks appeared to suggest that Pakistan will cooperate with India against the scourge of cross-border terrorism and terrorist violence only if such so-called disputes are resolved.”
The exchange highlights the fragility of the peace process, and the mutual dissatisfaction that binds it. When Singh talks of “elements across the border,” he means jihadi groups harbored in Pakistan, sponsored, allegedly, by its Inter-Service Intelligence force (ISI). And when Kasuri refers to the “dispute,” he means the divided territory of Kashmir, cause of two of the three India-Pakistan wars and epicenter, for the last sixteen years, of a nationalist-Islamist insurgency against Indian rule that has cost at least 40,000 lives. Both accusations sting because both, in part, are true.
Since the peace process began in February 2004, India has promoted increased trade, maintained a cease-fire and enabled some movement between the two halves of Kashmir. But it has done little to relax a military regime whose traits (according to a recent Human Rights Watch report) are “arbitrary detention, torture and custodial killings,” particularly against the Muslim majority that resides in the Kashmir Valley.