Islamabad, Dec 2 : The deadly Mumbai terror attacks that killed nearly 195 people were aimed to push nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of war at a time when Islamabad was talking peace, analysts have said.
They further said that attacks happened at a time when US and Pakistani forces were punishing al-Qaeda and its allies.
"It happened at a time when a new civilian government in Pakistan was not just reaching out to India, it was undertaking some very meaningful steps," said Samina Ahmed, South Asia project director for the International Crisis Group (ICG).
"For the jihadi groups and their backers in Pakistan this was probably a make or break moment," Dawn quoted her, as saying.
A crisis with India would play into the hands of sections of the Pakistani military and bureaucracy who are unhappy with a US alliance which has resulted in Pakistani forces fighting their own people in the tribal border areas, analysts say.
Creating trouble with India, according to analysts, would give Pakistan an excuse to get out of the unpopular US-led War on Terror, or at least make the US take notice of Pakistani security concerns about India and Afghanistan.
With alarm bells ringing in Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is spearheading efforts to head off a conflict that would have repercussions far beyond the region.
India has blamed "elements in Pakistan," and has as its prime suspect Lashkar-i-Taiba, a militant group that analysts say was supported by Pakistan's intelligence agency in the past.
Though treated as long-term assets by ISI, Lashkar and cohorts like Jaish-i-Mohammad have links to al-Qaeda, which strengthened after Pakistan embarked on a peace process with India in 2004, analysts say.
The question is whether the Mumbai plotters included people beyond fringe players who have maintained ties with jihadi groups, they added.
"As far as the state is concerned, the state institutions of the ISI and the army, I don't think they were involved," said Ahmed Rashid, author of "Descent into Chaos," which chronicles Pakistan's endless turmoil.
"There is a covert group of agents who the military uses to sustain the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan in the hope of one day winning back influence in Kabul. Elements of those could be involved," Rashid said.
But he saw the attack as a clear attempt by al-Qaeda and the Taliban to create a diversion, at a time when the Pakistan army and US missile strikes have put their fighters under pressure.
The 2001 attack on the Indian parliament by Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Mohammad, which brought India and Pakistan to the brink of a fourth war since independence from Britain in 1947, was made for the same reasons, Dawn quoted Rashid, as saying.