Tensions are mounting between historical rivals India and Pakistan, with India blaming its neighbour for the attacks in Mumbai. US diplomat Condoleezza Rice is in India to ease the conflict between the two nations.
Islamist students in Pakistan have often shown their contempt for India and the US
The United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday, Dec 3. on a visit to ''express solidarity'' with the people of India after the attacks in Mumbai last week.
Senior US Department officials said that Rice would also use the visit to address rising tensions between atomic power India and its nuclear-armed neighbor Pakistan.
Relations between the long-time adversaries have worsened since the attacks in Mumbai, which killed around 200 people and injured more than 300.
India sees Pakistani role in Mumbai attacks
India claims to have evidence of Pakistani involvement in the attacks. The only surviving gunman arrested by Indian police, Ajmal Qasab has reportedly confessed that the militants had received training in Pakistan.
One of the gunman confessed to be being trained in Pakistan
Indian and US intelligence officials say the 60-hour siege in Mumbai last week could be the work of Lashkar-e-Toiba, a militant group with close links to Pakistani intelligence agencies.
Pakistan, on its part, has denied the Indian claims. Pakistan Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari said that there was ''no state involvement'' in the attacks. ''The gunmen, whoever they are, they are all stateless actors who are holding hostage across the world,'' he said in a television interview.
Indo-Pakistani relations on rocky ground
Earlier this week, India summoned Pakistan's ambassador to register a formal protest. As part of its hardened stance, New Delhi has demanded that Islamabad extradite 20 terror suspects wanted by India.
Although India is not considering military action, foreign affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee warned that a peace process between the two countries started in 2004 would be at risk if Pakistan failed to act decisively.
Already, tension is mounting along the so-called Line of Control, the border between the two nations. The Indian Army has ordered residents in border villages to evacuate the area and the Air Force has brought in more resources into the frontier regions. Pakistan has also deployed medium range ballistic missiles batteries along the border.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since gaining independence in 1947. They had been at the brink of a fourth war in 2001 and 2002, after an attack on the Indian parliament by the militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Resolve conflict through talk not troops
Rice hopes to ease tensions between the nuclear powers
Despite widespread public anger regarding the attacks and calls from certain analysts for a harder stance against Pakistan, India this time seems determined to rule out a military strategy. Instead, India plans to take the diplomatic route by mobilising global pressure on Pakistan to deal with Islamist miliitants.
The visit by Condoleezza Rice is part of this effort. Rice has urged Pakistan to cooperate with Indian authorities on the Mumbai attack investigations and show transparency in the sharing of vital information. ''Pakistan needs to act with resolve and urgency and cooperate fully and transparently. That message will be delivered to Pakistan,'' said Rice.
The US is concerned about the impact of the tensions along the Indo-Pakistan border, as Pakistan has threatened to withdraw troops from the western border with Afghanistan.
American officials fear this withdrawal could lead to cross-border raids in the region.