Kasab, non-state actors and the state of delusion
By Shankkar Aiyar
25th November 2012 12:00 AM
On Monday, the nation will observe the fourth anniversary of 26/11, an act of war on India. It also marks four years of failure, of the Indian State to secure justice.
It is simply mystifying how much is made out in India of so little. On Wednesday, terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab was hanged in Pune. The reactions were telling and reflect a shallow interpretation of what constitutes justice. The execution of the death penalty was simply the culmination of a long-due process of law. As the father of brave-heart Sandeep Unnikrishnan said, it was “a legal necessity”. Yet some enlightened retards in the government chose to practice pop psychology and described it as ‘closure’. Really!
Four years after the massacre, India has been unable to budge Pakistan from denial—with or without the help of the US. Not a single entity or individual who sponsored terror from across the border has been brought to justice. The families of some of the victims and those who escaped may see or seek to see it as closure. But is it ‘closure’ for India?
There is little doubt of who the masterminds were, whose patronage they enjoyed and where they were located. As always, Pakistan chose to hide behind sophistry—that it was not the state but non-state actors who sponsored the attacks. Even so it is obliged to bring them to book. Fact is, every attack on India from Pakistan has been initiated first by ‘non-state actors’—from the so-called tribal warriors who tried to raid Srinagar at the dawn of Independence to the terrorists who waged war on Mumbai.
The attacks and the post-attack process now follow a familiar pattern. First denial, then promise of cooperation, followed by the dodge! India has been unable to secure the custody of sponsors and perpetrators in every instance in the past two decades. From those who programmed the March 1993 serial bomb blasts in Bombay to those who planned the passenger-for-terrorists hijack, from those who sponsored the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001, to those who trained/commanded the 26/11 attackers—24 names on India’s Most Wanted List are all privileged guests of Pakistan.
Indeed, 26/11 has become yet another instrument for the Pakistanis to leverage in the bilateral engagement, and the attempt to secure justice has been reduced to a charade. The Government of India has sent dossiers and tonnes of evidence on the 26/11 suspects to the Government of Pakistan at least four times in four years—including evidence collected by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and from David Headley. There is a lot of talk and motion but hardly any movement.
Every submission of evidence is followed by a pattern of questions and a patented response. Pakistan claims there isn’t enough evidence of the involvement of those named. All it has to do is to provide the voice samples of the accused for them to be matched with those on the tapes recorded during the attacks. The conversations point to a clear link between ISI, Pakistani Army and the LeT. But this task has been converted into an unending process. There can be only one conclusion: either the Indian investigators are nincompoops or Pakistan is evading responsibility.
In the latest episode of the theatrical process, in mid-November at a meeting in Rome, Pakistan assured India that voice samples of those named can be procured once the National Assembly of Pakistan passes the Investigation for Fair Trial Bill 2012. Now there is no guarantee it will be passed. Even if it is passed, the agencies in Pakistan cannot collect the voice samples of those named without the consent of the accused and can provide voice samples only by bugging their conversations. Worse, there is no guarantee that the “evidence” will stand in court.
And so the charade goes on. In August 2012, Member of Parliament Pashupati Nath Singh asked the Minister of External Affairs on the “evidence against Pakistan” and the “action taken by the government”. The answer is a riveting articulation of evasive pusillanimity: “Terrorism emanating from territory under Pakistan’s control remains a core concern for us. This is precisely why India has sought a firm and abiding commitment from Pakistan that it will not allow its territory and territory under its control to be used for aiding and abetting of terrorist activities directed against India and for providing sanctuary to such terrorist groups. India has consistently stressed to its interlocutors the need for Pakistan to honour its commitment of not allowing territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India in any manner.”
The strategy of the Government of Pakistan is to wilfully prolong the process, delay and deny justice. Should then India be investing capital for “Aman Ki Asha”? Should this be A Man Ki Asha? For over a decade now, successive establishments in Pakistan have played this game, talking peace and trafficking terror. Sure, peace is a good idea but can real peace be founded on chicanery? That will be the worst delusion.
India is a nuclear power with a highly successful space programme, it ranks among the top 10 economies in nominal GDP dollar terms and fourth on purchasing parity terms. All this and the status that follows is of little use if the government cannot secure justice for its nationals. If the US is feared, it is not because of its $16 trillion economy but because it shows the will to pursue the enemies of the state as it did for a decade to nail Osama. India is at the cusp of super-power status; every test is a part of the initiation rituals. This status is not bequeathed by the digits on the GDP figure, but it must be earned. This reality requires the government to redefine its line of duty, stand up for its people and what it stands for.
Shankkar Aiyar is the author of Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change
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