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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The 26/11 Case - How Pakistan and its Judiciary Help the Terrorists - Part I

The Honourable High Court of Mumbai has confirmed the death sentence awarded by the Special Judge M.L. Tahliani in a lower court to the lone surving terrorist of the 26/11 Mumbai urban warfare carnage. Ajmal Amir Kasab was caught red handed, video footage electronic records show this jihadi rambo shooting from the hip calmly at innocent and unarmed men, women and children, there is his voluntary confession before a magistrate and yet due process of law has been followed so far with enough opportunities given to the accused (now a convict) to defend his case. A remorseless and unrepentant Ajmal Amir Kasab still has at least a couple of opportunities left, the appeal in the Supreme Court followed by a mercy petition to the President of India in case his death sentence is confirmed by the Supreme Court also. Who knows, he may even get a pardon from a President of India, most of whom do not want to hang any convict and have been deciding mercy petitions in favour of the convicts. It would be a shame if it were to happen but India will have to simply grin and bear it if that unfortunately comes to pass.

There are two aspects to the Kasab case. One was his criminal action of waging war against a democratically established Indian State, killing innocent citizens and fighting its Army and Police forces. The second was the conspiracy that was hatched and planned in Pakistan and then executed with Pakistani masterminds directing every step of the terrorists in Mumbai remotely all the time. The Indian investigative agencies and prosecutors have gone through the entire complex web as best as they can (in spite of total non-cooperation from Pakistan where the entire scheme was conceived, planned, funded, and manned). No doubt there have been some loose ends (especially Headley), but they do not materially alter the proceedings against Kasab per se.

The biggest difference is that the Indian court, prosecution and defence have been at it every single day since the court was constituted. Nobody can accuse them of resorting to extra judicial processes, delaying tactics etc., for any adjournments were genuine and warranted. On the other hand, Pakistani investigators have done very minimal work in exposing the crime, have constantly demanded evidence from India for even events that took place on their soil, and even when the players and masterminds live in their own country.

While Kasab, the foot soldier of the Lashkar-e-Tayba (LeT) has been given a death sentence by an Indian court, for anything else would simply be a travesty of justice of the highest order, the masterminds in Pakistan who sent him in on a fidayeen attack, live to plan and excute more such attacks. They have the active support of the Pakistani Army, Government, and the Judiciary. I have another blog on how the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has treated the chief of LeT (let us not kid that he is only the head of the charity organization Jama'at-ud Dawah, JuD, and that there is no organization called LeT any more). It can be seen here under the caption, "Prof. Hafeez Saeed, LeT, and the Support from the State of Pakistan". I would therefore limit myself in giving an overview in this piece and the following, about how farcically the Pakistani judiciary has acted in conducting the 'endless exercise' of the 26/11 case at their end.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered First Information Report (FIR) vide number 1 on February 12, 2009 (over two years back)under several sections of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). It implicated seven persons including two in Indian custody, Ajmal Amir Kasab, a Pakistani and Fahim Ansari, an Indian. The remaining five, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid alias Zarar Shah of Sheikhupura, Mazhar Iqbal alias Abu Al-Qama of Islamabad, Shahid Jamil Riaz of Nasirabad Behawalpur and Hammad Amin of Rahimyar Khan are in custody at Adiala prison, Rawalpindi. Of these, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Hamad Amin and Zarar Shah are key founding members of LeT. Lakhvi, also known as 'Rehman chacha', is the Chief Operational Commander of the LeT. Zarar Shah is claimed to be the Communication Chief of the LeT and an urban warfare expert. Zarar Shah was the one of the calm voices (the other being that of Mazhar Iqbal alias Abu Al-Qama) that could be heard in telephone intercepts directing the operation at every step, urging the terrorists to kill their hostage in cold-blood and motivating the terrorists with visions of Paradise. These are very dangerous men who have conducted innumerable terrorist operations against India.

It was on March 4, 2009 that the in-camera trial of the seven accused started in the Anti terrorism Court II (ATC-II) in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. On May 5, the Court distributed chargesheets to the accused. Soon, the judge hearing the case retired and therefore, without framing any charges, the case was postponed until a new judge was appointed. Why was a judge about to retire given this most important case at all except as a Pakistani perfidy to delay the hearing ? Days before the Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting of July 16, 2009, Pakistan handed over a dossier to India in which it claimed that Lakhvi was the mastermind behind the attack and Kasab was indeed a Paksitani. As has been the Pakistani practice, enough ground is conceded just before an important even only to be re-taken after that. For her part, Ms. Hillary Clinton predicted that there would be some movement in the next few days to enable Indian leaders a face-saving excuse to tell their citizens as to why at all India should agree to a talk at Sharm-el-Sheikh. On July 18, chargesheets were framed against the five accused.

(To Be Continued . . . )

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