Acts of Terrorism in Mumbai are Opportunity to Strengthen U.S. Influence in Region

Azerbaijan, Baku, 5 Dec/ Trend corr D. Ibrahimova/ The United States is actively involved in the settlement of conflict between Pakistan and India after attacks in Mumbai and it is to willing take advantage of the events to expand area of its influence in the region.

"The United States has many motives for mediation between India and Pakistan. The United States is also taking the opportunity to cement its friendly relationship with India," Philip Oldenburg, U.S. expert on Pakistan, said.

The U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in the region and met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and called him to take steps in investigation of acts of terrorism in Mumbai with India.

However, Pakistani authorities declined to hand over persons suspected of organizing acts of terrorism to India. Therefore troops of both countries have been gathered in Pakistan-India border.

On 26 Nov, several act of terrorism took place in Mumbai (Bombay- India). The Indian authorities blame Lashkar-e-Toiba (Legion of Faithful) based in Pakistan for blasts.

Experts say U.S. willingness to mediate serves first of all its interests in the region.

The U.S. is taking the opportunity to cement its friendly relationship with India, said Oldenburg, researcher at the South Asia Institute.

"New conflict will allow not only to relocate troops, but by acting as peacekeeper to strengthen position in key BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) country. Indian September the 11th was organized so that to move India to the U.S. as closer as possible," Aleksey Mukhin, head of Political Information Center, said to RBK Daily.

He said U.S. intentions to create a new source of tension and compensate loss of influence in Europe, Middle East and Latin America stands behind events in India and Pakistan.

However American expert on India-Pakistan relations Sumit Ganguly says U.S. attempts to prevent expanding of India-Pakistan ties and to display its concern over terrorism in the region.

Problem of terrorism is not least important issue for the United States.

U.S. does have a clear interest in both combating terrorism and keeping South Asia as free of violence as possible, Oldenburg said to Trend by e-mail.

Moreover, the possible military result of the conflict between Pakistan and India will have a negative impact on situation in Afghanistan.

"The U.S. does not want Pakistan to shift its attention and its military forces from its western to its eastern border," U.S. expert Philip Oldenburg said to Trend .

"This (shift of forces to eastern borders of Pakistan) would obviously have grave repercussions on the war in Afghanistan," U.S. expert on Pakistan Ayesha Jalal said to Trend .

U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001 to stabilize situation in the country. Pakistani forces in Afghanistan-Pakistan border together with U.S. forces are fighting Taliban, one of the major destabilizing elements in Afghanistan.

U.S. mediation between Pakistan and India will not yield good results. America's mediation can lead to escalation of the conflict," Alexander Pavich, analyst at the Institute of Political Studies said to RBK Daily.

The latest events in Mumbai can prompt India and Pakistan to more confrontation. Attacks in Mumbai are a step taken backward in India-Pakistan ties. "I think that this attack constitutes a dramatic setback to Indo-Pakistani relations," Ganguly, professor and lecturer at Indiana University, said.

"Unless trust is restored, I doubt the peace process will make much headway in the near future," Ayesha Jalal, professor of history and director of Center of South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, said to Trend by e-mail.

U.S. expert Oldenburg said it is early to speak about possible consequences of these attacks as there are many factors which determine future development of events.

It is of a great significance to win election to be held in India after several months. Some observers suggest that opposition can win the election. In Pakistan many depend on military forces or opposition represented by Pakistan Muslims League and suppressed by the Zardari government.

"If India can provide irrefutable proof that the men who went to Mumbai came from Pakistan, and were affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, then the Pakistan government might be able to shut down some of the Lashkar's operations," Oldenburg said.

Russian expert Pavich said it is not difficult to predict consequences. "Both sides posses nuclear weapons and who will first reconcile conflicting parties will benefit from the events," Pavich said to RBK Daily.

The large Indian city was subject to attacks of terrorists on 26 Nov. A group of terrorists got in Mumbai (Bombay) and committed blasts in several places at the same time. Dekan Mujahddin extremist group claimed responsibility for attacks. 

Moreover, Indian authorities also blame Lashkar-e-Toiba for acts of terrorism. The events in Mumbai took place several days after Pakistani President Zardari stated importance of enhancing relations with India.

Pakistan-India relations have deteriorated because of territorial claims of both countries to provinces of Kashmir and Jamma. The dispute over these territories appeared in 1947 and has been lasting until now. Talks and calm are replaced by brief armed conflicts.

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