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India, Pakistan at the Heart of the Terrorism Debate

The war on terrorism is just beginning, and India is at the center of it. That is the opinion of a leading Indian analyst, speaking at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in the Washington area.

The war on terrorism is off to a shaky start, says H. Raman, director of the Institute of Topical Studies in India and a former longtime intelligence analyst.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have scattered rather than suppressed the al-Qaeda terrorists, many of whom have taken refuge across the border in Pakistan. "For the time being they are lying low. They are biding their time, and they are waiting for an opportunity to strike again," he says. "I do not think much of the leadership has been destroyed. I do not think much of the cadre has been destroyed. My own estimate is that their capability remains largely in tact."

Of the estimated 42 al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, Mr. Raman says only eight have been killed or captured. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, prime targets of the war, are still at large, and they have escaped with most of their funds. These will be amply replenished by the revival of the narcotics traffic, which had been suppressed by the Taleban.

Mr. Raman notes the increased targeting of India, along with the United States. "We had the attack on the India parliament on December 13," he says. "We had the attack on the security personnel guarding the American information center in Calcutta on January 22. And we had the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl on January 23."

These are the opening shots of a new phase of terrorism, in which Pakistan is deeply involved, says Mr. Raman. Its role in backing the Taleban is understated. It is now strongly supporting the rebels in Kashmir. "It is not Kashmiri terrorism. It is not Islamic terrorism," he says. "The terrorism which we have been facing in Kashmir, particularly since 1984, is Pakistani terrorism, particularly Punjabi terrorism in the name of Islam, in the name of jihad, in the name of Kashmir."

Mr. Raman says the ultimate goal of the terrorists is to liberate the Muslims of India, and Pakistani President Musharraf hardly stands in their way. His efforts to counter terrorism are too weak.

Maybe he does not want to be shot, replies H. Ross Munro of the Center for Security Studies in Washington and a longtime correspondent in South Asia. Pakistan made a quick turnaround in the war on terrorism, he says, and President Musharraf cannot move much faster without losing critical support and perhaps his life. "I think Musharraf does want to curb the Islamist extremists, and there is no doubt he is having a lot of difficulty. There is no doubt that he is hemmed in by forces inside his government and the military who are pro-Islamic extremist," says Mr. Munro. "At the moment, President Musharraf is our best bet because there is no one else in the wings who wants to take on this challenge."

And it is not all up to Pakistan, says Mr. Munro. Much of the terrorism derives from the long conflict in Kashmir, which is a conventional contest over territory. "I really think India has to come up with some ways of solving this Kashmir crisis peacefully because if that can be accomplished, Pakistan really has no argument for continuing hostilities with India, and we could see a rapid decline in tensions in South Asia," he says. "But India has to take the initiative."

In other words, says Mr. Munro, it takes two to stop terrorism.