STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now let's cross the border. Many people in Pakistan feel that the entire country is being unfairly blamed for the attacks on Mumbai. NPR's Jackie Northam reports from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

JACKIE NORTHAM: It's no surprise to many people here that India has laid the full responsibility for the Mumbai attacks on Pakistan. Tayyab Siddiqui, a former Pakistani ambassador to several countries, says there is a deep well of distrust between the two rival nations.

Mr. TAYYAB SIDDIQUI (Former Pakistani Ambassador): There is a kind of a built-in defensive mechanism. The moment something happens, instead of getting to the truth or to the bottom of it, they indulge in a kind of a blame game - the one party saying I'm totally flawless, totally innocent, the other saying, no, you are evil incarnate.

NORTHAM: There is widespread disbelief here that a small group of Pakistani men could be behind the three-day siege of Mumbai. Author and analyst Zahid Hussain is one of those who questions the allegations.

Mr. ZAHID HUSSAIN (Author; Analyst): I'm not denying the fact that some of the attackers would have gone from Pakistan. But, well, actually, is it possible for few people who are completely unfamiliar with that town to launch such a big scale of operation? I mean, it's amazing. It's like something seen from Hollywood films.

NORTHAM: India says the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba coordinated the attacks. The group was created in the 1980s by Pakistan's intelligence agencies to act as a proxy fighting force in the disputed area of Kashmir. Shuja Nawaz, the author of a recent book on Pakistan's military, says Lashkar-e-Taiba could have had a hand in the Mumbai attacks, but it's most likely a transnational effort. Nawaz says the Pakistani group may have had help from Islamist radicals in neighboring countries.

Mr. SHUJA NAWAZ (Author): I really think that there's probably an almost equal distribution among the three countries in the region: Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India.

NORTHAM: Nawaz says one popular theory here in Pakistan is that the planning and coordination for the attacks may extend as far as Dubai. He says the Gulf state could have been a way station.

Mr. NAWAZ: A transit station where maybe some of the final touches were put on the training and the indoctrination. That's where also the technical support would be for things like Google maps and all the other support which they would need.

NORTHAM: It may take Indian and international investigators months to determine who was behind the Mumbai attacks. In the meantime, the allegations against Pakistan resonate. The government is on the defensive. There's a simmering anger that the U.S. is taking sides with India. And there's a collective disappointment that the world views Pakistan as a terrorist haven, says security analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais.

Mr. RASUL BAKHSH RAIS (Security Analyst): Many Pakistanis are pained over the way Pakistan is depicted in the international media. And we should not be known by the character of terrorist organizations. These are small groups. We are larger society.

NORTHAM: Still, Pakistan's fledgling civilian government is being pressured by the U.S., India, even the United Nations, to crack down on suspected Islamist radicals. The army has shut offices of several major militant groups. Western analysts say it's in the Pakistani government's interest to go after them, but not only because of the Mumbai attacks. It's believed the groups have banded together to fight Pakistan's security forces along the border with Afghanistan. Rais says the government understands what it needs to do, but probably doesn't have the public backing.

Mr. RAIS: It is in a very difficult situation. This is not a government which has widespread national support, weak leaders. I don't think that they have that capacity to go after them in a big way without the support of all the political parties, and that is not forthcoming.

NORTHAM: Rais says too many of the political parties have their own agendas. Because of that, Pakistan can disrupt but not easily eliminate its homegrown militant groups, which will do nothing to dampen suspicion and distrust from its neighbor, India. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Islamabad.

INSKEEP: The rivalry between those two neighbors goes back to their independence in 1947. And I'm looking here at a timeline of key events since then, which you can find at npr.org.

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