From November 26 through November 29 of 2008 a series of terrorist attacks, carried out by 12 Islamic fundamentalists, killed 164 people and wounded over 300 people in Mumbai. The ensuing investigation uncovered, through interrogation of the only surviving attacker, that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) backed this attack. These terrorist attackers were allegedly trained by this Pakistani organization, which also provided them with reconnaissance information prior to the attacks. Further investigation led to the discovery that these attackers were part of a Pakistani militant Islamic organization known as Lashkar-e-Taiba. This fundamentalist group is considered a terrorist organization by most developed nations.
This terrorist attack was attributed to the ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan over claims to Kashmir. This attack was another example of the proxy war between the two nations. The attack in Mumbai was a tragic example of Pakistani Islamic fundamentalists using terrorism and violence to convey their demands regarding foreign policy. After the attacks, Pakistan denied any responsibility until India was able to offer sufficient evidence to prove otherwise. A month later, Pakistan finally took ownership of the fact that at least some of the attackers were Pakistani. The Indian government further claimed that the complexity and coordination of the attacks suggested that the terrorist plot had been backed by official Pakistani agencies. Pakistan vehemently denied this accusation.
The 2008 Mumbai attack had serious implications regarding India’s relationship with Pakistan. Throughout the investigation India felt that Pakistan was not being cooperative. Consequently, the Indian government voiced plans to potentially carry out military attacks against Pakistan in order to gain their full compliance with the investigation. Pakistan responded by moving troops toward the border. This tense situation almost made the proxy war a real war, but no attack was actually launched by either side.
Many Indian political leaders were strongly criticized by their constituents for their incompetent handling of the situation. Several high-ranking government officials eventually resigned in disgrace. The business community responded by requesting that improved safety measures be taken to further secure transportation terminals and other public places.
This horrible tragedy severely increased the tension between the two countries, which already have a strained relationship and conflict ridden past. Unfortunately, tragic events like these are very difficult to prevent and will only serve to weaken global cooperation.