The international community needs to reassess its policy toward Pakistan with the Mumbai terrorist attacks underscoring the imperative of addressing "transnational sources of Islamist terrorism in India", leading security experts have told US lawmakers.
How to address "the transnational sources of Islamist terrorism in India" is an "extraordinarily difficult question", Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior advisor with the RAND Corporation, a Washington think tank focusing on security issues, told a senate panel.
It "will require the reassessment of basic assumptions concerning policy toward Pakistan by members of the international community", he said at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs second hearing Wednesday on "Lessons from the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks".
"The masterminds of the Mumbai terrorist attack displayed sophisticated strategic thinking in their choice of targets and tactics," Jenkins said showing that the global struggle against the jihadists was far from over.
Another expert said India "unfortunately" had become the "sponge" that was protecting America and the western liberal world from the hate unleashed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba which had emerged as second only to Al Qaeda in being a threat to global security.
Ashley J. Tellis, senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, a prominent think tank, said: "It would be a gross error to treat the terrorism facing India - including the terrible recent atrocities - as simply a problem for New Delhi alone.
"In a very real sense, the outrage in Bombay (Mumbai) was fundamentally a species of global terrorism," he said.
Both Tellis and Jenkins testified that despite better preventive and response systems in the US, a Mumbai-like attack on America by LeT was "not inconceivable".
"Given the juicier and far more vulnerable US targets in southern Asia, LeT has simply found it more convenient to attack these in situ rather than over-extend itself in reaching out to the continental United States," he said.
"India has unfortunately become the 'sponge' that protects us all," Tellis said. India's very proximity to Pakistan, which has developed into the epicentre of global terrorism during the last 30 years, has resulted in New Delhi absorbing most of the blows unleashed by those terrorist groups that treat it as a common enemy along with Israel, the United States, and the West more generally, he said.
Tellis also suggested that, post Mumbai, India should create an institution like the National Counter-terrorism Center in the US with Washington possibly helping it.
He said creation of a national investigative agency is important, but it does not help India with its old problem in terms of prevention.