Does Pakistan admit its guilt?
S Madhusudhana Rao
For the head of an investigation agency, confession is a rare act. And, to tell his government what had happened was wrong and remedial measures should be taken to right it needs certain amount of moral courage and conviction, that too in a country that has been hostile to India since its birth in 1947.
The Pakistani head of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) that probed the 2008 Mumbai carnage linked to Pak militants has admitted that the attack was launched from his country’s soil. Tariq Khosa’s candid confession linking Mumbai mayhem to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in an article he wrote in Dawn newspaper is the first ever admission made by any Pak official.
Khosa is retired now, but his graphic details of how LeT led the attack on the commercial capital of India on November 26, 2008 confirm the stand India has taken and rejects official Pak stance on Mumbai havoc. Year after year, Islamabad has been demanding more evidence to arrest and prosecute those who were involved in planning and launching one of the worst terrorist attacks on this country despite Delhi giving voluminous data implicating top LeT militants.
Since 2009, Indian authorities have started sharing intelligence info and investigation reports with Pak authorities on Mumbai attacks in an effort to bring the culprits to book. Even the US and Britain have given Pakistan tapes of intercepted communication messages between the attackers and their handlers directing them from a Karachi control room.
The lone survivor among the attackers, Ajmal Kasab, who was captured alive and hanged in 2012 after trial, had given Indian investigators valuable data on the entire operation. His confessions as well as intercepts of mobile conversations between Pak militants and their masters and the funding of the massacre had been given to the Pak government from time to time in the form of dossiers.
Ten terrorists are said to have been behind the covert operation and seven of them are main suspects. But none of them has ever faced any serious investigation because Pakistan maintains that there is no ‘solid’ evidence to try them on the charges India has leveled against the suspects. Obviously, their ‘immunity’ from judicial proceedings stems from the fact that the Pak government, its Army and its powerful spy arm ISI have their blessings and interests in protecting the terrorists.
In the beginning, when India started furnishing evidence and the global community began putting immense pressure on Pakistan, it made a show of acting on the available proof; but as the time passed it has quietly watered down the investigation parroting the oft-repeated statement, “India has not given enough evidence” against the accused, knowing well that India has nothing more to share with Pakistan. We know its stand is illogical but that’s how that country has been foxing us and the world.
The case of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the 26/11 mastermind and one of the seven accused, is nothing but a mockery of judicial system. The way he was arrested and freed on bail several times shows Pakistan’s lackadaisical approach to punish Mumbai carnage perpetrators. Lakhvi is a right hand man of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, whose anti-India rant is well known. He is known to enjoy the patronage of Army and ISI.
Ironically, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency itself said several times that it had provided all the proof needed by the special court trying the Mumbai attack suspects. But if Islamabad believes that the evidence submitted to it is not enough to convict Lakhvi and others, we can’t expect any justice or cooperation from the Pakistani side in the 26/11 trial of those involved.
“Pakistan has to deal with the fallout of the attacks and this will require facing the truth and admitting mistakes,” Khosa said without mincing words in his Dawn article.
And, what he said buttresses Indian arguments and vindicates our stand. Among the key points he mentioned:
Investigators had identified the camp where the LeT terrorists were trained and launched by sea; they also identified and recovered the casings of explosive devices used in Mumbai attacks from a camp near Thatta in Sind province.
- The fishing trawler used by the attackers for hijacking an Indian trawler, in which they sailed to Mumbai, was brought back to a Pakistani harbour, painted and hidden. But it was recovered
- The fact that Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani national was confirmed.
- The engine of the dinghy abandoned by the terrorists near Mumbai harbour was bought by militants in a Karachi sports shop along with the dinghy.
- The “ops room” in Karachi was identified and communications through voice over internet protocol (VoIP) were unearthed.
- The trial of the seven men charged for the attacks had “lingered on for far too long” and Pakistan must ensure the “perpetrators and masterminds…are brought to justice”.
- “Dilatory tactics by the defendants, frequent change of trial judges, and assassination of the case prosecutor as well as retracting from original testimony by some key witnesses” had been serious setbacks for Pakistani prosecutors.
- The slow progress of the trial of seven key suspects, including LeT chief Lakhvi, and his release on bail have emerged as key irritants in Indo-Pak ties.
Now, in the light of Tariq Khosa’s revelations, will the Pak government stop bluffing India and start acting on the proof given by its own investigating agency and Indian authorities and do justice to the victims of Mumbai attacks?