High stakes:

At a time of considerable tension between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks, the government has acted sensibly in calling for an all-party conference rather than

assuming a unilateral posture in dealing with the crisis. Indeed, this kind of exercise should become the norm when faced with external threats or internal challenges.

Although there is reason to hope that the crisis will not escalate, especially as no troop movement along the borders has been detected or declared and New Delhi has refrained from directly implicating Islamabad in the attack, the Indo-Pakistan peace process has received a serious blow. For this New Delhi and the Indian media must shoulder most of the blame. Within hours of the attack and without giving concrete evidence, New Delhi was announcing a Pakistani link.

Not only does this put pressure on the Indian government to keep up its accusations and resist moves for a cooperative stance, it also damages people-to-people ties. The postures

of aggression and defensiveness must then be abandoned. India and Pakistan face a common threat — Pakistan more so than India — and unless the two countries adopt all means to cooperate with one another, the costs for the billion-plus people of South Asia will

be high in these times of terror. — Dawn (Pakistan)