LONDON - The British media has reported that Mumbai atrocities have highlighted need for solution to Kashmir issue, as the Jihadi groups will exploit Muslim grievances unless peace can be brought to the troubled state. The Observer in its report claimed that there now seems to be a growing consensus that the operation is linked to the Pakistan-based outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, allegedly operates openly from his base at Muridhke outside Lahore. This probable Pakistani origin of the Mumbai attacks, and the links to Kashmir-focused groups, means that the horrific events have to be seen in the context of the wider disaster of Western policy in the region since 9/11. The abject failure of the Bush Administration to woo the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan away from the Islamists and, instead, managing to convince many of them of the hostility of the West towards all Muslim aspirations, has now led to a gathering catastrophe in Afghanistan where the once-hated Taliban are now again at the gates of Kabul. Meanwhile, the blowback from that Afghan conflict in Pakistan has meant that President Asif Ali Zardari's government has now lost control of much of the NWFP, in addition to the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fara), while extremism flourishes as never before. It was clear that much of the north of the country was slipping out of government control. While it is unlikely that Pakistan had any direct link to the Mumbai attacks, there is every reason to believe that its failure effectively to crack down on armed groups means that atrocities of the kind we saw last week are likely to continue. India, meanwhile, continues to make matters worse by its ill-treatment of the people of Kashmir. The gunmen who carried out attacks in Mumbai were not poor, madrassa-educated Pakistanis from the villages, brainwashed by religious clerics, but angry and well-educated, middle-class kids furious at the gross injustice they perceive being done to Muslims by Israel, the US, the UK and India in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir respectively. If Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is the most emotive issue for Muslims in the Middle East, then India's treatment of the people of Kashmir plays a similar role among South-Asian Muslims. At the time of Partition, the state of Kashmir should logically have gone to Pakistan. However, the pro-Indian sympathies of the state's Hindu Maharajah, as well as the Kashmiri origins of the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, led to the state passing instead to India - on the condition that the Kashmiris retained a degree of autonomy. Successive Indian governments, however, refused to honour their constitutional commitments to the state. The referendum, promised by Nehru at the UN, on whether the state would remain part of India, was never held. Following the shameless rigging of the 1987 local elections, Kashmiri leaders went underground. India, meanwhile, responded with great brutality to the freedom movement of Kashmiris. Half-a-million Indian soldiers and paramilitaries were dispatched to garrison the valley. There were mass arrests and much violence against ordinary civilians, little of which was ever investigated, either by the government or the Indian media. Two torture centres were set up - Papa 1 and Papa 2 - into which large numbers of local people would 'disappear'. In all, some 70,000 people have now lost their lives in the conflict. Now, after the Mumbai attacks, Kashmir looks likely to derail yet again the burgeoning peace process between India and Pakistan. In the months ahead, we are likely to see a security crackdown in India and huge pressure applied to Pakistan to match its pro-Indian and pro-Western rhetoric with real action against the country's jihadi groups. But there is unlikely to be peace in South Asia until the demands of the Kashmiris are in some measure addressed and the swamp of grievance in Srinagar somehow drained. Until then, the Mumbai massacres may be a harbinger of more violence to come.