An opportunity that must be taken

Published 1:39 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2008

By Staff
The terror rampage in Mumbai last week is proof enough that terrorism can strike anywhere, anytime against anyone.
Although the terrorists specifically sought American, British, other Westerners and Jewish people, most of the dead and wounded were Indians. No matter their nationality, those dead and wounded did nothing to deserve becoming victims of what appears to be coordinated attacks.
Americans and others in places around the world where terrorist attacks have caused similar death and destruction can understand what India’s people are going through. They understand the anguish and anger. They understand the tears and the despair. They understand because they have experienced those things.
It did not take long for India to point the finger of blame at Pakistan, which was just as quick in its denial of involvement in the attacks in Mumbai. India and Pakistan each have nuclear weapons, which makes it even more important that those two nations join in the global war against terrorism instead of going to war with each other.
While in Europe earlier this week on a farewell tour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said something that, hopefully, the new civilian government in Pakistan heard and will heed. Rice said that new government should cooperate fully and hide nothing when it comes to finding out who is responsible for planning and carrying out the attacks in Mumbai.
That’s strong language, but not strong enough.
Pakistan must provide full cooperation and hide nothing, if there is anything to hide. If, as top Pakistani officials have been saying since the attacks, Pakistan had nothing to do with the attacks, then it should not fear any investigation into who is responsible for the attacks.
If that evidence leads to Pakistan, then it should be held accountable by the world if its government in any way supported, encouraged or facilitated the attacks or the planning of those attacks.
The opportunity to provide “absolute transparency” should be grabbed by the new civilian government in Pakistan, if its hands are clean in this tragedy. By proving it had nothing to do with the attacks, that new government in Pakistan would be taking a step down the path to improved relations with India. If that happens, the people who live in that part of the world could breather a little easier.
Time and time again, India has accused Pakistan of complicity in attacks within its borders. Many of those attacks India traces to militant organizations opposed to India’s rule in Kashmir.
If India is right in its accusations that Pakistan played some role in the Mumbai attacks, look for the existing tension between those two nations to worsen. That’s just what that part of the world, and the entire world for that matter, does not need just now.
U.S. officials are hoping that Pakistan is not involved in the Mumbai attacks, but not just because that would likely improve relations between Pakistan and India. Improved relations between those two nations would open the door even more so for Pakistan to move its focus on security from its border with India to its border with Afghanistan, where Islamic militants are active.
Those same militants are the ones that attack U.S. and other forces battling terrorism in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, which also faces terrorists’ threats, must make sure it permits the world complete access to its books on any possible Pakistani government involvement in the attacks, Rice said this week.
It would be in the best interests of Pakistan and the world for that to happen.