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Will Pakistan now cooperate?

By Monish Tourangbam

One of the key accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, captured in Saudi Arabia was deported to India Tuesday last. Dreaded Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal aka Abu Hamza is an Indian national hailing from Maharashtra’s Beed district. Not only has he confessed his active role in carrying out the 26/11 four years ago but also disclosed his close links with the attacks masterminds Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed.

Importantly, Jundal’s arrest has put new focus on the 26/11 trials as he is the biggest catch since Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman of the attacks was caught. Raising a moot point: What does his arrest add up to? Will the disclosures made by him provide enough ammunition to New Delhi to tackled Islamabad, which continues to cite “lack of evidence” for refusing to act against those accused?

According to Jundal, he was one of the major planners along-with attack mastermind LeT leader Hafiz Saeed and others who directed Kasab and Co from a control room in Karachi. Indeed, his revelations confirm many things that India knew and have added more firepower to New Delhi’s assertions.

This is not all. Jundal has also disclosed culpability of ISI and Pakistani army officials who too were involved in planning 26/11 and attended various meetings. Even as evidence against LeT leader Hafiz Saeed piles up, he continues to elude the authorities, openly propagates anti-India rhetoric and hold rallies in Pakistan. Thanks, to authorities repeatedly asserting ‘lack of evidence’ against Saeed.

Notwithstanding, the nature of the Mumbai attacks and the way they were carried out points to meticulous and multi-level planning which underscore that Pakistani military and intelligence were involved it. Needless to say, Jundal’s disclosures add weight to New Delhi’s averments of Pakistani officials’ culpability. Namely, involvement of two Pakistani army officers, Major Sameer and Major Iqbal.

Also, as Jundal hailed from Maharashtra he trained the attackers in speaking Hindi, acquainted them with Mumbai’s topography and gave tips on how to move around the city. He was not only present at the training camp in Muzaffarabad in PoK but also instructing the killers from control room to fool investigators by making them pose as members of a fictional Indian outfit: Deccan Mujahideen.

In fact, his voice using words like “prashashan” has been identified in the 26/11 tapes. Over the next few days, Jundal will be interrogated by multiple agencies, for his involvement in various terrorist attacks across India. Kasab’s testimony points to his active involvement. According to officials, Jundal left Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks and was stationed in Saudi Arabia.

True, many grey areas in the whole plot still remain answered but these will become clearer once multiple investigations and interrogations start. Given that the practice of using multiple aliases by terrorist groups has made the task harder in identifying them. According to analysts, Jundal’s Indian nationality might have made it easier for Saudi authorities to help India nab and deport him. Undoubtedly, more facts will spill open in the coming days.

Raising significant questions: What role will these play in New Delhi’s talks with Islamabad? How will these be used by India to communicate its concerns vis-à-vis terrorism in general and South Asia in particular to the international community? Particularly to Washington?

Remember, Indo-Pakistan ties plummeted post the Mumbai attacks, and are today the top agenda between the two. Diverse evidences also highlight the attacks were hatched on Pakistani soil with culpability of some sections of the ISI. Moreover, Jundal’s arrest might add a new chapter to the long 26/11 trial.

Add to this, other innumerable jinx factors whereby the trajectory of Indo-Pakistan ties has always stumbled due to unresolved issues and notorious adventurism by Pakistan-based terrorists aided by sections of the Pakistani Establishment.(INFA)

The author is a Research Scholar, School of International Studies (JNU).

At the same time however, leaders on both sides have walked the extra mile to resume dialogue and there has been a concerted effort to give economic content to ties. Unprecedented economic steps have been taken recently opening new vistas of cooperation and creating more confidence building measures in terms of increased economic linkages.

As a result of various initiatives taken to start talks on contentious issues, and efforts to increase economic connectivity for the benefit of all, a sense of optimism pervade both the sides. Even the current political turmoil in Pakistan, leading to the ouster of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and induction of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in place of him has not lowered the prospects of positive developments in India-Pakistan relations.

Undeniably, Jundal’s arrest and his confession would definitely build serious domestic demands for India to take sterner steps with the Pakistani authorities to quickly book the perpetrators. Hence, amidst the prospects of trade liberalisation in between the neighbours, terrorism remains an Achilles heel.

Sadly, economics alone is not the antidote for India-Pakistan’s troublesome relationship. Much more understanding needs to be arrived at on many political and security-oriented issues. Specially, terrorism as Indians eagerly await justice for the Mumbai victims and action against the terrorists. Recall, the TV visuals of the heinous and bloody attacks have left a deep imprint.

Clearly, terrorism has broken the spine of India-Pakistan ties and this will continue to haunt the region and both countries unless and until the Pakistani Establishment comes clean on the complicity of its men coupled with the Army changing its India-centric mentality.

In sum, no matter the measures to increase confidence between the two countries, the bottom line is clear: Pakistan needs to show its sincerity towards scuttling anti-India elements on its soil. Till date, two 26/11 attackers, Ajmal Kasab and David Headley have produced major incriminating evidences against the terror masterminds and elements within Pakistan’s military and intelligence.

But, all these dossiers have fallen on deaf ears, with Islamabad continuously parroting its well-rehearsed lines “lack of evidence”. One wonders how Pakistan will respond to evidences coming to light post the arrest of prized catch, Abu Jundal aka Abu Hamza. (INFA)

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