The Mumbai terrorist attacks demonstrate that terrorism is a global threat that demands a global response. According to a group of prominent Indian public figures, the international community should not view the Mumbai attacks solely through the prism of Indo-Pakistani relations. Instead they emphasized that the best way to address terrorist organizations operating outside Pakistani state control is to promote stable democracy and increased state capacity so the civilian government can dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in under-governed parts of the country – a project in which both India and the international community have a stake.

Carnegie’s Ashley J. Tellis led a discussion of the attacks, the response so far, and implications for stability on the subcontinent. A delegation of Indian public officials joined him:

  • Ambassador S. K. Lambah, Special Envoy, Prime Minister’s Office
  • Lieutenant General (retd.) Satish Nambiar, Director, United Service Institution of India
  • Sudheendra Kulkarni, Advisor to L. K. Advani, Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Ambassador G. Parthasarathy, Visiting Professor, Centre for Policy Research
  • Jamshyd N. Godrej, Chairman, Aspen Institute India & Chairman and Managing Director, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd.
  • Ambassador R. M. Abhyankar, former Ambassador of India to the European Union and Belgium
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Senior Editor, Hindustan Times
  • Admiral (retd.) P. S. Das, former Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, Indian Navy
  • Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, Shiv Sena
  • Harpal Singh, Non-Executive Chairman of Ranbaxy Labs and former chairman of Fortis Healthcare Ltd.
  • M. R. Srinivasan, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a militant group with Pakistani ties implicated in the attacks, had two likely objectives. The choice to strike at India’s financial capital demonstrates that a primary goal was to erode international confidence in India’s economic growth. This is underscored by the terrorists’ targeting of Americans, Britons, and Israelis. Participants also suggested that the attackers may have intended to inflame sectarian tensions, which so far have failed to materialize, largely because of the Indian Muslim community’s immediate repudiation of the attacks.

The group stressed that a growing body of evidence – including statements from senior U.S. government officials – links Pakistan to militant groups that have struck repeatedly inside India. In particular, Admiral Das asserted that the attackers’ amphibious approach to Mumbai would not have been possible without sustained training from either the Pakistani Army or ISI.

India’s eventual response will depend on reactions from Pakistan and the international community, according to the delegation. Ideally, LET and other militant groups operating out of Pakistan would be shut down by the Pakistani government under United Nations auspices. Members warned, however, that India’s patience is “not infinite,” and that India will act if the international community does not.