Mumbai Attacks, Terrorism, India & Pakistan

On August 23, 2015 the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan will meet to discuss the issue of terrorism. Cross-border terrorism, as India refers to it, has been the key issue plaguing India-Pakistan ties according to New Delhi. For Islamabad (or Rawalpindi to be precise) the issue is Kashmir.

Ever since the Mumbai attacks of November 2008, the key demand from New Delhi has been that Pakistan take action against the terrorists involved in those heinous attacks. Pakistan has, however, argued that their inability to take action against the terrorists is due to lack of proof and not lack of will.

However, a recent op-ed by Tariq Khosa, who was head of Pakistan’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) when the Mumbai attacks took place, demonstrates that it is both a lack of will and a reluctance to acknowledge reality.

The former prosecutor plainly states: “Pakistan has to deal with the Mumbai mayhem, planned and launched from its soil. This requires facing the truth and admitting mistakes.”

Khosa lays out in great detail how, where and by whom the attacks were planned. “First, Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani national, whose place of residence and initial schooling as well as his joining a banned militant organization was established by the investigators. Second, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists were imparted training near Thatta, Sindh and launched by sea from there. The training camp was identified and secured by the investigators. The casings of the explosive devices used in Mumbai were recovered from this training camp and duly matched. Third, the fishing trawler used by the terrorists for hijacking an Indian trawler in which they sailed to Mumbai, was brought back to harbor, then painted and concealed. It was recovered by the investigators and connected to the accused. Fourth, the engine of the dinghy abandoned by the terrorists near Mumbai harbor contained a patent number through which the investigators traced its import from Japan to Lahore and then to a Karachi sports shop from where an LeT-linked militant purchased it along with the dinghy. The money trail was followed and linked to the accused who was arrested. Fifth, the ops room in Karachi, from where the operation was directed, was also identified and secured by the investigators. The communications through Voice over Internet Protocol were unearthed.”

According to Khosa the reason why nothing has happened almost 7 years after the attacks is because of “dilatory tactics by the defendants, frequent change of trial judges, and assassination of the case prosecutor as well as retracting from original testimony by some key witnesses.”

The central argument of Khosa’s article is that if Pakistanis are “as a nation determined to root out terrorism in all its forms from our soil” then they need to end the “duality and distinction between good and bad Taliban, including all militants and terrorists, from Miramshah to Muridke, from Karachi to Quetta.”

For that to happen, Khosa argues, that Pakistanis as a nation need to be prepared to “muster the courage to face uncomfortable truths and combat the demons of militancy that haunt our land?”