The events in Mumbai are winding down. Bill Roggio has an excellent analysis of the tactical aspect of the terrorist attacks.
What is unclear to me is what was the goal of the attack? Possibilities:
1. The attack was to force India to withdraw from Kashmir. I am skeptical of this one for several reasons. Firstly India has suffered several terrorist attacks before over Kashmir without a change to the status of Kashmir, why would the terrorists expect a different outcome this time? Secondly, the tactical play of this attack appears different. While possible, I do not believe it is probable that this is about Kashmir.
2. The attack was to distrupt and weaken India's center of commerce. This certainly will be a result to some degree but what exactly would be the gain for the terrorists? Only if this would benefit one political party over another. I am skeptical that one political party in India would stoop to such low to gain political power. There was also a possibility that the attack was meant to influence the US election 3 weeks earlier but was post phoned for one reason or another. This one seems least plausible.
3. The attack was to sabotage the warming relationship between India and Pakistan. The Kashmirs would have the most to gain if relationship between India and Pakistan remain contentious. The Pakistani intelligence agency remains implicated in training the Mumbai terrorists. I think this is the most plausible.
4. One step further than thought #3 is that rogue elements of the Pakistani intelligence service are trying to push India and Pakistan toward actual war. Win or lose, and especially a likely stalemate, these elements would then take the opportunity to seize Pakistan, supported by Taliban elements in the Northwest territories of Pakistan and disgruntled elements of the Pakistani army. I would think that even rogue Pakistani intelligence elements would think this is too risky.
5. Conspiracy ideation might run along the line that the entire Mumbai attack was a red-herring. That not even the participating terrorists knew what the real plan was. The real plan could have been to grab something or someone else in Mumbai proper, or even elsewhere in India. By grab it could be grab to take or grab to kill. If the true target was that sensitive, I am uncertain that we would know anytime soon. Since this is already conspiracy laced thoughts, there is no need to further delve deeper into what the true target may have been. Intriguing never the less.
6. A Powerline post suggests another possibility in direct opposition to #3 and #4. That is, the Pakistani intelligence agency is acting in full accordance with the Pakistani government to weaken India, perhaps in continued desire to gain territory like Kashmir, or to see the down fall of India in general. Why are they then also seeking rapproachment with India? To obtain cover for their true goal. Could Pakistan approach be like the Palestinians, that is negotiation with Israel continues while bombing to destroy Israel continues?