Indo-Pak talks survive Mumbai attack

Yesterday, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India met as part of a series of talks between the two nuclear-armed neighbors five months after they officially resumed bilateral dialogue. Relations between the two countries appear to be well on the mend following the devastating 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed by the Pakistan-based terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The two sides discussed “confidence-building measures, including cross-border trade and visa protocols.”

Yet the talks could just as easily have been scuppered before they began by the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai. On July 13, a series of deadly bomb blasts ripped through India’s financial capital, killing 23 people and wounding over 130. Unlike in the case of many previous attacks, however, there were no verbal barbs hurled across the border, no wild speculation from official sources regarding Pakistani involvement and no cancellation or delay of talks. Given the history of Indian reactions to terrorist attacks on its soil, this “non-reaction” is, by itself, noteworthy.

Indian authorities and official functionaries have exhibited uncharacteristic restraint so far in declaring who they believe to have been behind the recent bomb attacks in Mumbai. Whereas in the past, authorities have been quick to point the finger at groups based in Pakistan, such as LeT, or Indian organizations with links to Pakistani terror groups, such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM), top officials in India have stated that they do not want to speculate on who might be responsible until investigations of the attacks are complete and more is known.

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