Thus goes the verdict
Death sentence to Kasab, what next ?
IMPRESSIONS BY UDAY SHANKER
One after another chapter has been closing and opening in the 26/11 trail. Sometimes, it appeared as if India and Pakistan were minutes away from yet another war. And, at times, there was a sense that both Delhi and Islamabad have a similar agenda against the perpetrators of violence, whether in India or Pakistan. There was exchange of dossiers on the 10 men who fought for three days from November 26 to 28, 2008 , security forces and left behind 166 dead and several others wounded. More than that, they had injured, and injured badly the image of the financial capital of India, Mumbai.
Now, Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole surviving gunmen, who along with nine others had unleashed terror and a trail of death in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, was handed down death sentence by a special court. There was an element of certainty in the judgment. It had to be death, and death alone for Kasab.
The justice came through judiciary. For 17 months, the case was debated, argued and Kasab, the icon of 26/11, was in the international attention throughout, before the death sentence was announced.
Pakistan was skeptical. It felt that Kasab has been given this death sentence and two Indians, who were suspected to be co conspirators of the terror plot, were let off because that would have exposed the role of home grown terrorists on the Indian soil. There were a series of questions raised: how could the Indian investigators get the clinching evidence against a Pakistani and not against the two Indians..
Pakistan has asked for the full judgment of Kasab’s case. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit said that they had had seen the judgment as reported by media, but would like to have a closer look at the whole judgment. Nothing wrong in this. Pakistan has a right to know as to how its national had been treated, legally. And whether the Indian legal system had enough evidence to hand down such a sentence to Kasab, 22, a school drop out from Faridkot area of Pakistan.
But this also showed that Pakistan was having its own ideas about the trial and the judgment. On the other hand, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, said it was a message to Pakistan. What did he imply was that Pakistan should seek a lesson from it that no crime would go unpunished and the terrorism would not be tolerated and the Indian system was capable of dealing with the crisis of this nature.
More than that, he probably wanted to tell Pakistan that Kasab like people, would bring bad name to Pakistan and better it is for Islamabad to check these type of elements back at home itself. This was neither diplomacy nor politics. It was a sheer reaction, which contradicted the spirit of the Thimpu thaw in Indo-Pak relations.
Just look other way round – after the 26/11- what would have been the scene between Delhi and Islamabad had the two sides cooperated with each other. Had Pakistani investigators been told what had happened and terrorists links were getting traced to Karachi, Pakistan. It appeared to be a plot.
Had Pakistan acted fast, arrested the people whom India had time and again named, and started investigations, inviting Indian investigators to quiz them. That was possible, because after accusations, denials and international pressure, both India and Pakistan embarked on the track that led them to trace the terror plot having been hatched on Pakistani soil. They were non-state actors.
But trust deficit between the two only sowed seeds of doubt among the common people. Indians were fed on the reports and rhetoric that Pakistan was escaping its responsibility in book the culprits responsible for 26/11 attacks, though six , including Lakhvi, are facing a trial there. And, Pakistanis were made to feel as if India was obsessed with Pakistan as a state that was exporting terror, promoting terrorism and shielding terrorist. With 11,000 people having been killed in 2008 and 2009 in terror attacks and another 2,000 having been killed in first four months of 2010, this charge was indigestible for Pakistanis.
With Kasab’s conviction and sentence of death, one chapter was closed. But there was another chapter, which probably would never end , and that is of Indo-Pak relations. India and Pakistan have a typical habit of seeing each other’s words and action through coloured glasses. And why did 26/11 happen, and what were the objectives, apart from killing the innocent people in hotels and public places, including railway stations. All of them were unsuspecting victims, there is hardly any difference in the nature of victims. They are always unaware of what is going to befall them, be it in New York on 9/11, 26/11 Mumbai or in the streets of Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore. Victims are victims. Those killing them have only one goal to create terror and horrify the people to deliver stunning messages to the governments or the communities.
If 9/11 was a message to the United States of America that it can be challenged on its soil, 26/11 was an attempt to get India and Pakistan in a confrontational mode. To some extent, they did succeed. There were cries of war, heard within India. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth and if the judge concluded that Kasab had waged a war against India, then ordinary people, too had the reason to believe so. The matters were complicated by Pakistan, which first denied anything to do with the Mumbai terror attack. Later, it did acknowledge that its soil was used for the terror plot.
India and Pakistan need to learn that, the elements of terror cannot be wished away. They have to be dealt with, and the only way forward is to join hands, rather than turn them into fists and fight with each other. The fist fighting or shadow boxing would only encourage the forces keen on seeing hostility between the two South Asian neighbours.
Judgment in Kasab’s case can show a roadmap of cooperation for Delhi and Islamabad. They need to connect the dots and find out where convergence of ideas and action lies. Will they do it?
Lastupdate on : Mon, 10 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 10 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 11 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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