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India calls for justice two years after Mumbai attacks

Indians have paid homage to the 166 people killed when gunmen attacked several targets in Mumbai two years ago. New Delhi accused Islamabad of failing in its promise to punish the alleged masterminds.

Indians paid tribute to those who died in the Mumbai attacks on Friday

Indians paid tribute to those who died in the Mumbai attacks on Friday

When gunmen targeted India's financial hub and symbol of the country’s economic rise on November 26 2008, the media were quick to describe the carefully-orchestrated attacks as India’s "9/11." They soon became known as India’s "26/11."

Two years later, the wounds have not healed, says security expert Afsar Karim in New Delhi: "This is because those behind the attacks have not yet been brought to justice. The threat, which emanates from Pakistan, has not lessened because Pakistan has not acted against the terror groups which operated from its territory. A wound can only heal if there is no danger that something like this will be repeated."

Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram paid tribute to the victims on the second anniversary

Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram paid tribute to the victims on the second anniversary

The attacks did little to improve the already tense relations between India and Pakistan. The only surviving gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab, who is Pakistani, has said that the officially banned Pakistan-based terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, was behind the bloodbath.

New Delhi has accused Islamabad of being slow to look into the cause of the attacks and of conducting its investigation half-heartedly. Lashkar-e-Taiba and its head Hafiz Saeed are thought to have close connections to Pakistan's secret services.

Delhi claims the highest circles in Pakistan must have been aware of the plans to attack Mumbai.

Better relations needed between India and Pakistan

"I am one of those who think it is important for the whole region that India and Pakistan have good relations," says Amitabh Mattoo, a political expert at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.

"For India as an aspiring nation it is very important to maintain friendly relations with its neighbors. Four years ago, there were some good talks with Pakistan under former President Musharraf and many thought this might lead to a breakthrough.

"But after the Mumbai attacks, India wanted Pakistan to act against Lashkar-e-Taiba and yet the founders are still running free, holding speeches all over the country. If the Pakistani government doesn’t change its attitude, the instability will go on."

Slow implementation of reforms

After the attacks, the Indian government announced it would invest more in security and prevention. Police reforms were introduced and the media, which were accused of playing into the hands of the terrorists with their reporting, agreed to act according to a code of honor.

Gunmen assailed Mumbai's Victoria Central station and several other buildings on 26/11

Gunmen assailed Mumbai's Victoria Central station and several other buildings on "26/11"

They said that they would censor themselves at times of crisis and not talk about security plans for instance.

"There have been reforms but these have perhaps not been implemented as fast as we would have liked," explained Afsar Karim.

"The reforms could help to gather more information about terrorist activities inside India. But activities outside of India cannot be prevented. If the problem of terrorism is not tackled at its root there could be hundreds of new targets and we won't be able to do anything against the threat."

In response to India's repeated criticism, Pakistan's foreign minister said on Friday that it was the government's "desire to punish those involved" in the Mumbai attacks.

Author: Priya Esselborn
Editor: Anne Thomas

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