Redouble efforts

Redouble efforts

Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana’s acquittal by a Chicago court of involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks is a huge disappointment. However, he has been convicted for providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Toiba and for helping out in a failed plot to bomb the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. But these convictions will provide only cold comfort. Of the several accused in the 26/11 attacks, Rana and David Headley are the only two who are in FBI custody. Rana was perhaps a minor player, someone who answered to the ‘higher ups’ in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the LeT. Yet India was hoping that with Rana’s conviction, the process of trying the other accused, who are in Pakistan would be set in motion. His acquittal is a setback to that quest for justice. Rana’s acquittal will confirm Indian fears that the FBI was not putting in its best to nail the plotters. After all, although the FBI named Sajid Mir, Mazhar Iqbal, Major Iqbal, Ilyas Kashmiri, etc as co-accused in the 26/11 case, it has to date not taken any action to get the Pakistani government to arrest and hand them over for trial in the US.

While Rana’s acquittal is disheartening, it must steel India’s resolve to persist with its quest for justice. Evidence presented during his trial affirmed not only the ISI’s role in the 26/11 strikes but its role in sponsoring terrorism in general. And this evidence came straight from the horse’s mouth. Headley, who claimed to work for the ISI and the LeT provided damning details of the links between the two. He told the court that groups like the LeT “operated under the umbrella of the ISI” and that they co-ordinate on financial and military support. A video tape of the FBI’s interrogation of Rana revealed him saying that Headley told him that the ISI handed over weapons to terrorists just before they crossed into India.

Even as India steps up its efforts to get Washington to try Major Iqbal and the other accused in the case, it must not rely on the US alone. There are other countries whose nationals suffered on 26/11. Delhi must work with them to get justice for the victims. Hitherto, India has focused its diplomatic energies on the US to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. Delhi needs to rope in the United Nations to make the ISI accountable.

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