Washington, Dec.1 : America is convinced that the best way to defeat Islamic terrorism is to advance Indian-Pakistani relations and to persuade Islamabad to fight the common enemy on its doorstep.
To this end, Pakistani troops are spearheading a counter-insurgency campaign in Pakistan's tribal territories while US drones are targeting al-Qaeda leaders.
The counter-attack from the militants has two aims: first, undermine rapprochement between India and Pakistan by provoking a new conflict; secondly, divert Pakistani forces away from their tribal territories to redirect them to the common enemy, India.
If they achieve this second goal, it is likely that the US air campaign will be blunted. It would give the Taleban and their allies a freer hand to step up the violence against Afghanistan.
This weekend those responsible for the attack on Mumbai have cause to celebrate. Indian leaders, the media and the public are calling for revenge. The weakened Indian Government of Manmohan Singh, which faces reelection next year, is under growing pressure to act.
While Pakistani leaders have insisted they are not responsible, this will not convince many in the Indian security establishment. Through bitter experience, they are used to the authorities in Islamabad saying one thing and doing another. India expects Pakistan's leadership to be responsible for the actions of all branches of its Government.
The only glimmer of hope in the depressing aftermath of last week's carnage is that the West may be in a strong position to respond.
Obama had already identified the importance of improving Indian-Pakistani relations and resolving the dispute over Kashmir before last week's attacks. He is committed to sending more forces to Afghanistan as American troops begin their withdrawal from Iraq. The incoming Obama administration has rightly been focused on the economic crisis. Foreign affairs must also now take priority. Mr Obama and his team will have to hit the ground running.