Saturday, 20 March 2010

Mumbai carnage, Lashkar e Taiba and new Afpak policy

Mumbai carnage, Lashkar e Taiba and new Afpak policy
Dr Shabir Choudhry 20 March 2010

When Mumbai carnage took place many people pointed fingers to Pakistan and especially Lashkar e Taiba. Pakistan first claimed that its territory was not used for this terrorism, but in view of mounting evidence, reluctantly agreed that ‘non state actors’ could have be involved in it.

With time the evidence was becoming more and more strong, clearly showing involvement of Pakistani personnel; and use of the Pakistani territory. Despite that Pakistani media, government officials and public at large was refuting this and trying to prove that it was local Indians who carried out this terrorism.

Some even came with a novel idea that the Indian intelligence agencies have done this to implicate Pakistan and attack Pakistan. I personally had many discussions with people who strongly believed that it was Indians who did this. I, of course, strongly believed that it was one of the Jihadi groups trained and equipped by Pakistani agencies. They either did it alone or with some help and support of extremist individuals within the ranks of Pakistani agencies.

Of course I was given hard time for advocating this kind of thinking; and those who blamed India for this carnage were hailed as true Kashmiris and friends of Pakistan. And I, as always, was accused of being ‘anti Pakistan’. My conviction was based on my thorough study of terrorist or jihadi groups which operate from Pakistan and how Pakistan authorities from time to time deny things and then eat words when overwhelmed with evidence.

Mumbai Carnage and evidence associated with that is an old story. In Pakistan not many people will deny some involvement of Lashkar now, but still there is no will to take its leadership and other God Fathers of terrorism to task. Pakistan says there are no solid evidence to implicate Jamaat e Dawa and its Chief Molana Hafeez Saeed. However Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaran, on this point said:

"Investigations around the world are carried out in a certain way. If Pakistan does not know how to interrogate Saeed, then they should allow my agents to go in there and do the job. I am willing to get this done”.

Of course Pakistan will never agree to that. Pakistanis can allow America to do certain things, even allow them to kill Pakistani citizens by drone attacks and their sovereignty is not compromised with that; but there is no way on earth they can allow Indians to behave like Americans or even to suggest something on those lines.

That aside, admission of guilt related to Mumbai Carnage by David Headly does not leave much space for Pakistan and Molana Hafeez Saeed. But who is David Headly and what was his role in this matter.

Who is David Headly
He is an American of Pakistani origin. His real name is Dauood Gilani, a son of famous former Director General of Radio Pakistan, Syed Saleem Gilani. His step brother is Daniaal Gilani who is Public Relations Officer of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Although he is not a related to the Prime Minister, but relationship of both families is such that the Prime Minister went to his house to express his condolences when his father died.

Dauood Gilani was born in Washington in 1960. His father married an American woman when he worked in America for Voice of America. The marriage ended up in divorce and Dauood after studying in Cadet College in Hassan Abdal went back to his mother. In 2005 he changed his name to David Coleman Headley and in 2006 shifted to Chicago.

He claims to have changed his name to David Headly on advice of his bosses in Lashkar e Taiba, who thought it would be easy for him to carry out some missions for them with a non Muslim name. He became part of LeT in 2002 and gained training from them inside Pakistan.

Dauood Gilani or David Headly pleaded guilty to providing information related to the targets hit in Mumbai by terrorists. He went their on mission of the LeT and visited India and Denmark on several occasions. He accepted that he passed on all the information, videos, photos, sketches etc to LeT. He also confessed that he was planning to attack the office of Danish cartoonist who insulted Prophet Mohammed Pbuh.

He accepted all twelve charges after getting this assurance that he would not be hanged or extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark. According to the American officials David Headly has not only pleaded guilty but has provided very useful information related to secret activities of terrorist groups.

The Americans are still in search of two more of his associates, namely Syed Abdul Rehman Hashim, a retired Major of Pakistan army and Ilyas Kashmiri, a Commander of Operations of Al-Qaeeda.

India can interrogate David Headly
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake has confirmed that Indian investigators will be allowed to interrogate David Headley, but made it clear that David Headly will not be extradited to India or any other country.

However there is indication that he might be extradited if there were additional charges brought against David Headly. Robert Blake said: "But that does not mean that at some future date, some additional charges could not be brought. I do not want to speculate much on the future charges, but at least on these charges he cannot be extradited."

More is expected of Pakistan
In view of the above it is expected that there will be more pressure on Pakistan to do more on terrorism and come clean on this. Despite what Pakistan has already done in the war against terrorism, it is believed in some quarters that some sections of the Pakistani establishment are still playing double game; and whenever they are cornered they hand - in some more terrorists or Taliban leaders.

That policy is not acceptable to the Americans and other NATO allies. Enough is enough, they say. This Tom and Jerry fight cannot continue anymore. Pakistan has to take some tough decisions; and go to the USA on 24 March with clear mind and clear set of priorities.

Pakistan and America are to hold first Strategic Dialogue at the Ministerial level. Topics of the talks include, economic development, water and energy, education, communication and security, but importance of the meeting could be seen that from the Pakistani side ISI Chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Commander in Chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani will also be involved in talks. The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Bashir Noman will also take part in the talks, not to mention Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other senior people.

The meetings in the USA will determine new US Pakistan relationship and a new strategy on war in Afghanistan. Moreover it will surely determine future course of the Pakistani politics. It will decide who will do what. It will also decide who will get promoted and who will be made to retire or hold a new post or play a new role.

Pakistani government had some high level talks to formulate their policies before proceeding to Washington. Interestingly these meetings were held in the GHQ, and not in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as planned. This is very high level Pakistani entourage to visit Washington at this crucial time.

USA is not happy with the war in Afghanistan and wants some tangible results before the mid term elections in November 2010. America is also not happy with what goes on in Pakistan, as political and economic instability in the country affects the war on terrorism.

High on the list of this delegation would be to get a civil nuclear deal, just like what India got; and also to get more funds to stabilise Pakistan’s fragile economy and to make up for the losses incurred during the war on terrorism. Obviously Pakistan is not going to have any luck with the nuclear deal, but they will get more money for other projects with ‘what to do list’ of demands. Pakistani delegation will be even happy with that as they will get more money, which they could divert to other uses, just like their predecessors did in the past.

However, the Americans would like to ensure that their interests are fully protected and for that some new arrangements are being considered. The new arrangements will also provide a safety net to the government and its various institutions which are at loggers head at present. For this purpose it is possible that some kind of ‘super institution’ could be formulated and one of the existing Generals could be elevated to take charge of that for the continuation of existing policies and to keep check and balance.
Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir

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