December 2008

Today, India and Pakistan face each other with hostility and suspicion heightened by the terror attacks in Mumbai. Both countries have nuclear weapons. Some experts think that the nuclear face-off between India and Pakistan makes the region the most dangerous place in the world.

In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, officials in the U.S. are focusing on the potential for the hostility between these two neighbors to boil over into active military conflict.


In this lesson, students will:

  • Understand the circumstances surrounding the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
  • Place the attacks into a large global context.
  • Examine the historical relationship between India and Pakistan.
  • Gather information from various news sources.


Audio reports from National Public Radio

Worksheet: The Mumbai Attacks

In the Classroom


“In some ways that whole region is like a forest that hasn’t had rain in many months and one spark could cause a big roaring fire.-White House Press Secretary Dana Perino

Place the quote on the board. Let students know that this statement was made in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the region she is referring to is South Asia. With this information, ask students to interpret the quote.

  • According to Perino: how much danger exists in this region?
  • Why would the Mumbai attacks provoke such a statement?
  • What countries make up South Asia?
  • What do students know about the historical relations between these countries?

Gathering Information on the Mumbai Attacks and the Regional Crisis

Tell students that they will be gathering information from various news sources to better understand what took place in Mumbai in November 2008, and will examine the larger regional and global implication of these events.

Distribute the worksheet: The Mumbai Attacks

As a class, fill out the center box, drawing upon students’ recall and/or some of the initial reports of the attacks.

Assign groups of students to read or listen to different news sources covering the attacks. Using their assigned source, the groups should answer as many of the questions as possible.

Note: Each report places emphasis on a different aspect of this issue. Thus no single source will address all questions.

Pulling it all together

Ask the groups to report back on what they learned from their assigned news sources. As each group presents, students should work on completing their worksheet. They should listening for any answers that their particular source did not address, as well as any overlap or discrepancy between the news sources.

Have students consider the implications of the Mumbai attacks. How have these attacks fueled the conflict between India and Pakistan? Why is there so much hostility and distrust between the two nations? How has it come to this?

Additional Online Resources

Teachers might find it useful to have students explore the following online resources for coverage of current events.

BBC News Special Reports – Kashmir Flashpoint
background and reporting on developments in this region

Kashmir Watch
the news portal of Kashmir International Research Centre (KIRC), an independent non-profit research organisation

The New York Time’s Terrorism in India
links to all of the paper’s resources on the Mumbai attacks

India: Conflicts Within
a project of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting that provides a range of reporting resources pertaining to this topic

Homepage of Dawn
an English-language newspaper from Pakistan

Homepage of The Times of India
an English-language newspaper from India

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