India and Pakistan have fought three full-scale wars and countless border skirmishes over the past five decades. Each of these has only served to deepen and harden the differences between the two neighbours. The aftermath of war has never been peace in the sub-continental context. It has always meant another war a decade or two down the road. It would be tragic if this pattern was to be repeated after the terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament last week. The attack was a strike at the heart of the world's largest democracy. If the attackers had not been stopped in time, they might well have succeeded in wiping out many of the country's senior leaders. The main suspects are two organisations, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mahmud, which have bases in Pakistan and have been involved in Kashmir. India needs to act to prevent further attacks of this kind. But attacking suspected terrorist bases in Pakistan is not the solution. It might satisfy an immediate desire for retaliation, but the long-term consequences could be disastrous. Pakistan will undoubtedly respond militarily, and two nuclear armed nations could be at war. Also, terrorism on this scale cannot be wiped out by military action. It is important that the political roots that give rise to these attacks be addressed. This is a lesson that is relevant in the context of the current war in Afghanistan as well. While the Taleban and Osama bin Laden's power base has been wiped out, this is no guarantee that similarly motivated fanatics will not arise to take their place. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's statement to Parliament was restrained. While he said going to war was a possibility, he made it clear that India's preferred option was still to solve the problem diplomatically. The current US-led war against terrorism provides the best opportunity there has been in decades to resolve the differences between India and Pakistan. But to take advantage of this, India must abandon its long-held policy of avoiding all international mediation on Kashmir and seek the help of the United States and the international community represented by the United Nations.