Friday, November 26, 2010




    Two years after the barbaric mass murder of innocent people in Mumbai, justice has continued to elude the families of victims. The Pakistani perpetrators, masterminds and sponsors of the 26/11 attacks are either openly strutting about the streets of Pakistani cities or are enjoying a rest and recreation break behind prison walls, secure in the knowledge that the faux trials in Pakistani courts will end in a predictable manner – i.e. with their acquittal. Not that all this comes as a surprise. Given the complicity of the Pakistani state (read army and intelligence agencies) in the attacks, the prosecution of the people arrested in Pakistan was never going to be anything more than an eyewash.

    Within hours of the arrest of Ajmal Kasab, one of the ten terrorists who attacked Mumbai, the Indian security agencies had got enough information to pin the blame for the attack on the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Despite knowing of the links between the LeT and the ISI – the former being a virtual paramilitary force of the Pakistan army – the Indian government tried to give the benefit of doubt to the Pakistani state by talking of the involvement of 'elements within the Pakistani establishment'. Had the Pakistani state not been involved in planning and provisioning and providing training for the attacks, it would have grabbed the opening given by India to bring the guilty to justice. That this has not happened coupled with the fact that all efforts have been made by the 'deep state' of Pakistan to delay the trials of arrested people is irrefutable evidence of the participation of the state machinery and agencies in the entire macabre episode.

    Even the trial which is underway in Pakistani courts against six of the accused was the result of the enormous international pressure that was put on Pakistan by Western countries whose nationals were murdered by the Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai. But apart from Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, the other under-trials are mere foot-soldiers, and almost all the main masterminds like Sajid Mir, Abu Qafa and others whose names have been revealed by David Headley have got away scot free. As far as the trial itself is concerned, there are serious questions being raised over the seriousness and sincerity with which it is being conducted. Given that the trial is being conducted in camera, there is a veil of secrecy over it. Even the charge-sheet and the evidence that has been produced by the Pakistani authorities is unknown.

    All assurances given by the Pakistani authorities on bringing the guilty to justice have been violated. Take for instance the assurance given by Pakistan's interior minister to the Indian home minister on the issue of providing voice samples of some of the masterminds. Six months after Rehman Malik gave a solemn assurance, not one step has been taken in this direction. Meanwhile, the Pakistani authorities have tried to complicate the trial by sending one dossier after another seeking more information from India on the attacks. Given that the Mumbai terrorists were in constant communication with their masters in Pakistan for nearly 72 hours while the horror was playing out in front of TV screens across the world, surely the Pakistani intelligences would have got a fix on the people sitting in Pakistan who were issuing instructions to the terrorists. But so far there is total silence on this count.

Most of the information sought in the dossiers sent by Pakistan is either totally irrelevant or a clumsy effort to deflect, dilate and thereby delay the investigation. Worse, the questions are more in the nature of a phishing expedition to try and ferret out the depth and if possible source of information that the Indian security agencies have gathered so that next time around the Pakistani can take care to cover their tracks. But even as the Pakistanis try to cover the tracks of their auxiliaries who carried out the attacks, explosive new information and revelations have come pouring out. The interrogation of the Pakistani-origin terrorist, David Headley aka Dawood Gilani, has implicated the ISI and LeT, including some senior serving officers of the Pakistan army, including the ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha who is supposed to have visited Lakhvi in prison. Small wonder then, that the Pakistan state continues to be in complete denial and resorting to lies and obfuscation to protect its jihadis – uniformed and in mufti.

Forget about taking action against the masterminds, the Pakistani government and agencies have allowed the organisation that carried out the attacks to operate openly. Despite a ban being imposed on the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front organisation Jamaatud Dawa, these groups enjoy complete impunity to carry out their murderous trade of collecting funds, operating training camps, making hate speeches and recruiting jihadist cadres. So much so that the so-called civil society of Pakistan feels no compunctions in inviting the head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Saeed, to give a talk, as was done by the Lahore High Court Bar Association some days ago.

In spite of the stonewalling on action against the terrorists, Pakistan is audacious enough to call for talks with India and asking India to not become hostage to a single incident. It is almost as though the Pakistanis want India to forget that 26/11 ever happened. Normally it is not a bad idea to move on and put the past behind. But in the case of Pakistan, every time India has tried to put the past behind and move on to normalise relations, the past has inevitably repeated itself. Take for instance the train bombings in Mumbai in 2006. India did move on and what happened? 26/11. Perhaps if India was to now forget 26/11 and move on, it would be followed by another such spectacular attack. Clearly then, India must draw a red line now. Not doing so and re-engaging Pakistan without the perpetrators and masterminds of 26/11 being punished would amount to inviting Pakistan to launch more such attacks.

    More than anything else, the 26/11 attacks which have scarred the Indian psyche, need to be used both to build up an impregnable and uncompromising internal security architecture as well as developing instruments to deter and if necessary inflict unacceptable damage on the country that sponsors and supports terrorist activities in India. To do so India needs to bring into play all the components of national power – overt and covert, economic and military, conventional and sub-conventional, diplomatic and political – to protect the lives and properties of its citizens.


    <1090 Words>                    26th November, 2010



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