The detailed testimony of David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in the case against Tahawuur Hussain Rana and some others being tried in absentia before a Chicago court has received considerable attention in India and Canada. However, the attention received in Pakistan is limited. The focus in Pakistan seems to be more on his credibility as a witness. Questions posed by the defence lawyer of Rana relating to Headley’s background as a narcotics smuggler and his alleged unreliability in money matters have received greater attention in Pakistan than in India.
Rana is only a co-conspirator in the case. The principal conspirators are Sajid Mir , Abu Qahafa, Mazhar Iqbal,Major Iqbal, Ilyas Kashmiri and Major Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed alias Pasha. While the principal conspirators, all based in Pakistan, have been cited by the FBI as co-accused, no action has been taken by the FBI to pressure the Government of Pakistan to arrest them and hand them over to the FBI so that they could be tried along with Rana and Headley. No explanation has been forthcoming so far as to why no action has been taken by the FBI to make Pakistan hand them over for trial in Chicago.
Will the second prong of the FBI’s strategy succeed by sparing the Government of Pakistan of any embarrassment because of the disclosures of Headley regarding the involvement of the ISI? This would depend upon the way the prosecution lawyer and the Judge sum up the proceedings for the benefit of the jury when all the testimonies are over. If they focus only on the evidence relevant to the charges against Rana, they might succeed. On the contrary, if they also focus on the charges against the absconding accused being tried in absentia, it might not.
What are the action options for India?
Draw the attention of the Terrorism Monitoring Committee of the UN Security Council in terms of the UNSC Resolution No 1373 passed after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US and ask for action against the ISI for violation of the UNSC resolution.
Indian action may not succeed because of a possible Chinese veto in support of Pakistan, but that should not deter us from bringing the evidence to the notice of the UNSC Monitoring Committee.
*Insist that the US should treat the case relating to the involvement of the ISI in the Mumbai blasts on par with the involvement of the Libyan intelligence in an act of terrorism directed against a Pan Am aircraft (the famous Lockerbie case) in 1988, which resulted in the death of all the passengers and crew, many of them US nationals.
The Government of India should insist on the trial of the ISI officers involved before the Chicago court and the payment of compensation to the relatives of the victims by the Government of Pakistan.
Re-energise our case for the declaration of Pakistan as a state-sponsor of international terrorism by the US State Department on the basis of the evidence adduced in the trial. The State Department will avoid doing it as it did after the Mumbai blasts of March 1993, but that should not deter us from taking up the case against Pakistan vigorously once again.
some suggestions for the babus in GOI.