Will they battle terror or each other?

The terror has passed, but the tension lives on.

A worrisome byproduct of the deadly 60-hour siege on Mumbai last week by Muslim terrorists is the increased friction it created between India and Pakistan -- two nations that, since 1947, have fought three major wars and numerous armed skirmishes.

Relations between the two are always uneasy, but when they get worse than normal, chances of yet another war rise sharply -- and because both are now armed with nuclear weapons, that's a particularly scary scenario for the rest of the world.

Usually tension between the two centers on Kashmir, a territory both claim. But the Muslim fanatics who killed at least 174 people and injured scores more in the attack on India's financial capital trained for and planned the jihad in Pakistan's tribal regions where al-Qaida and other Islamo-fascist groups hang out. The only surviving terrorist captured by India is a Pakistani who admitted this.

So it's understandable why India has been pointing the finger of blame at Pakistan, though it has been careful to say that it doesn't believe Pakistan's recently elected democratic government was behind the assault.

What India does blame the government for, however, is its lack of control over the tribal areas that harbor the terrorists.

The Bush administration has often made the same point, and in several instances has even given the green light for the U.S. military to launch cross-border raids on the rogue camps. The Pakistan government protests the raids, yet claims it also seeks to take out the camps. It lacks either the military clout or the will to do so.

At first, soon after the Mumbai siege was put down, India made noises about sending in its own troops to clean out the camps. Indian troops crossing into Pakistan would humiliate the Pakistani government, forcing it to defend its borders against an old foe or to be routed from power by Pakistani mobs -- causing mayhem and chaos throughout that part of the world.

India has backed off the cross-border threat, at least for now, but it is asking Pakistan to extradite 20 people suspected of being involved in terrorism directed against India.

The United States -- and the United Nations, too, for that matter -- should insist that Pakistan comply with the request and police its own territory.

Indeed, global diplomacy shouldn't focus just on getting India and Pakistan to tamp down tensions between them, but to try to bring them together to cooperate against a common enemy -- Islamic terrorism.

At least something good would come out of the Mumbai siege if it brought these two enemies closer together instead of driving them further apart. It would also make the world a lot less dangerous place to live.

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