The US pressured India into not retaliating against Pakistan after the attempted attack on the Indian Parliament by Pakistani terrorists onDecember 13,2001, and promised that Pakistan would be made to dismantle the anti-Indian terrorist infrastructure in its territory. Inresponse to the US pressure, India exercised moderation and did not exercise its right to retaliate. The promises made to India were neverkept. The anti-Indian terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory continued to grow without the West taking any action against Pakistan.
2. The result: the savage attack of November 26-29,2008, in Mumbai by 10 Pakistani terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). The US and theother Western countries have been conducting themselves in exactly the same way as they did in 2002---- expressions of outrage over theterrorist strike, pretense of solidarity with India, but at the same time ill-concealed attempts to protect Pakistan and its military-intelligencecomplex from the consequences of their continuing to sponsor terrorism against India in Indian territory.
3. Pakistan's behaviour----whether it is ruled by elected political or military rulers---- has not changed one iota since it started using terrorismagainst India in 1981. It would organise an act of terrorism and to pre-empt a possible Indian retaliation would project itself as thevictim-State threatened by India and manipulate Western policy-makers into rationalising its use of terrorism against India and pressuringIndia not to retaliate against Pakistan.
4. One thought and hoped that the West would act more firmly against Pakistan this time than it had done in the past because of the factthat the LET terrorists, who attacked Mumbai, killed nine Israelis and some nationals of the US, the UK, France, Italy,Germany, Canada andAustralia,in addition to killing about 160 India nationals. These hopes are on the way to being belied.
5. Instead of stepping up the pressure on Pakistan to dismantle the LET's terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory and arrest and handover to India those involved in the orchestration of the terrorist strike in Mumbai, pressue is being stepped up on India not to retaliateagainst Pakistan---not even politically. Instead of calling Pakistan to account for the outrage, attempts are being to mollify it by acceptingthe various conditions sought to be imposed by it, one of the conditions being that it would, if India produces evidence, prosecute theterrorists in its own courts and would not hand them over to India.
6. This is the fifth time Pakistan has been defying international pressure to hand over suspects for investigation and prosecution. The firstwas Omar Sheikh, one of the principal accused in the case relating to the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, atKarachi in January-February,2002. It got him tried and sentenced to death by one of its courts. The hearing on his appeal has beenadjourned by the anti-terrorism court over a hundred times. In the meanwhile, reports from Pakistan say that he has been given all thefacilities such as mobile phones etc that he asked for and that with these he is once again active from jail in guiding the pro-Al Qaeda jihaditerrorist organisations like the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM).
7. The second is Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian mafia leader, who is the principal accused in the case relating to the serial explosions inMumbai in March,1993. He was designated by the US Department of Treasury as an international terrorist in October,2003, because of hislinks with Al Qaeda and the LET. Pakistan has avoided handing him over either to India or the US. He continues to live under an assumedname as a Pakistani national at Karachi. Even though sections of the Pakistani media have been periodically reporting about his presenceand activities at Karachi, Pakistan continues to deny his presence in Pakistani territory.
8. The third is A.Q.Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, found guilty of clandestinely transfering military nuclear technology to North Korea,Iran and Libya. Both the previous Government headed by Pervez Musharraf and the present Government headed by Asif Ali Zardari haveconsistently opposed demands that an international team of experts should be allowed to interrogate him outside Pakistan.
9. The fourth is Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Mirpuri (Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir ) origin, who was arrested by the Pakistani authorities inAugust,2006, on suspicion of his involvement in a plot discovered by the London Police to blow up a number of US-bound planes originatingfrom British airports. He was the brother-in-law of Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). The Pakistaniauthorities repeatedly evaded action on a British request to hand him over so that they could interrogate him not only in connection with thealleged plot to blow up planes, but also in connection with the alleged murder of one of his relatives in Birmingham before he fled toPakistan. He escaped from police custody under mysterious circumstances in December,2007, and died in a missile strike by a US Predator(pilotless) plane on a suspected Al Qaeda- hide-out in North Waziristan on November 15,2008. The leaders of the LET wanted by India inconnection wit the Mumbai attack constitute the fifth instance .
10. Pakistan's reluctance to hand over Omar Sheikh was due to the long history of contacts between him and the Inter-Services Intelligenceand between him and Osama bin Laden. According to Karachi police sources, he had claimed during his interrogation that during a visit toKandahar to meet Osama bin Laden before 9/11, he had come to know of Al Qaeda's plans for the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homelandand that on his return from Kandahar he had met Lt.Gen.Ehsanul Haq, the then Corps Commander at Peshawar, and told him about AlQaeda's plans. After 9/11, Musharraf, under US pressure, had appointed Ehsanul Haq as the Director-General of the ISI in replacement ofLt.Gen.Mahmodd Ahmed whom the US did not trust. It was believed that Musharraf was worried that if Omar Sheikh was handed over to theUS, he could mention during his interrogation by the FBI about his telling Ehsanul Haq regarding Al Qaeda's plans and the question mightarise as to why Pakistan did not pass on this information to the US, which might have prevented the 9/11 strikes.
11. Fears that Dawood Ibrahim's long history of contacts with the ISI, his contacts with Al Qaeda and the LET and his role in helpingA.Q.Khan in clandestinely transporting nuclear material to North Korea, Iran and Libya and North Korean missiles to Pakistan might cometo the notice of the US during any interrogation have stood in the way of Pakistan handing him over either to India or the US. In the case ofA.Q.Khan, fears that he might reveal the role of the political and military rulers in his clandestine proliferation activities are behindPakistan's refusal to permit any independent interrogation of him. When the restrictions on his house arrest were relaxed after the electionsof March last year, he allegedly told some foreign journalists that Musharraf was totally in the picture about his nuclear and missile dealingswith North Korea. The Government strongly denied these allegations and re-imposed the restrictions on him.
12. In the case of Rashid Rauf, police sources say that he was aware of the contacts of the JEM with the ISI. Moreover, according to thesame sources, he was also aware that the four suicide bombers, who carried out the London blasts of July 2005, had been trained by theJEM in one of its camps in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) at the request of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the NO.2 to bin Laden. TheISI's anxiety to cover up these facts should explain the decision not to hand him over to the British Police.
13.The LET's close links with the ISI on the one side and with Al Qaeda on the other is believed to be behind the present refusal to handover the masterminds behind the Mumbai attack to the Indian authorities.
14. Under these circumstances, the Pakistani leadership----political as well as military--- is determined not to hand over any of the LEToperatives either to India or to the US. If the US, through independent sources, collects more irrefutable evidence and maintains thepressure on Pakistan, the most Pakistan might do is to hold a proforma trial against the LET operatives, get them jailed and allow them toguide the LET activities from jail in the same manner as Omar Sheikh has been guiding the activities of the JEM from jail.
15. If the US is really concerned over the refusal of Pakistan to act against the LET's terrorist infrastructure and operatives, it could declarePakistan as a state-sponsor of terrorism and stop all military and economic assistance to it.However, it is unlikely to take this step due tofears that this might affect even the limited co-operation which Pakistan has been extending to the US in targeting Al Qaeda sanctuaries inNorth Waziristan.
16. India should not, therefore, have any illusions that the US would act decisively against Pakistan. It is our problem and we have to dealwith it on our own through appropriate political, diplomatic and operational means. It is a pity that all the strong statements on the optionsbefore India are coming from Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the Minister For External Affairs, and not from the Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh.He mostly maintains a discreet silence. Some comments which he did make like ruling out a military option have had the effect of dilutingthe uncertainty and anxiety caused in the minds of the Pakistanis by the strong statements of Shri Mukherjee.
17. This impression of Indian softness, if not removed, would encourage the Pakistani political and military leaders to continue with theirpresent policy of inaction against the LET. (3-1-09)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )