Monday, May 3, 2010

Ajmal Kasab verdict & after

Editorial -- The Express Tribune -- May 4

Ajmal Kasab’s conviction on all 86 charges related to the Mumbai attacks brought against him by the Government of India before a special court was a foregone conclusion. We say this given the reams of evidence against him, not least the photographs of him walking through the main concourse of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus with an automatic weapon in hand. All the other attackers were killed by Indian security forces and two Indian Muslims who were tried as co-accused have been acquitted by the court. While we unequivocally welcome the guilty verdict for someone who can be best described as a mass murderer, it serves little purpose for India to gloat over it and again point a finger at Pakistan. This is precisely what we make of Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram’s statement right after the verdict when he said that it was “a message to Pakistan that they should not export terror to India”. This clearly suggests that New Delhi (or at least sections of the Indian government) is convinced that Pakistan was involved in the attacks at some sort of official level.

For its own part, the best convincing that Pakistan can do is if it tries in earnest the seven Laskhar-i-Taiba (LeT) men that it has arrested for involvement in the Mumbai attacks. These include the LeT’s operations chief, Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, and several other operatives, who were arrested from outside Muzaffarabad in December 2008. However, it wasn’t till November 2009 when charges were formally made against the seven men in an anti-terrorist court in Rawalpindi. Since then, the case for the prosecution has gone nowhere. In January of this year, Lakhvi sought a transfer of his case and later filed a plea for acquittal. While both were rejected, no movement has been seen as far as presenting any evidence against the men is concerned. Pakistan needs to expedite resolution of the case so that the rest of the world can begin to believe it when it says it will prosecute any Pakistani involved in the Mumbai attacks.

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