The US’s maternal instincts of protecting the Islamic Republic of Pakistan when it comes to terrorism targeting India is far from dead with the American’s seeming to have taken our Congress party led Dr. Manmohan Singh Government yet again for a ride.
Having got access to the lone surviving terrorist of the Mumbai 26/11 attack, Ajmal Kasab, they have denied us access to Pakistani origin terrorist Daood Gilani aka David Coleman Headley.
Meanwhile our Home Minister, perhaps to make light of the denial of access by the US, claims that Pakistani origin terrorist Daood Gilani aka David Coleman Headley “has nothing to do with this puzzle” ie: 26/11 :
Pak hiding real 26/11 culprits: Govt
Published on Sun, Feb 07, 2010 at 08:52 …………………………
Vir Sanghvi: Let me then take it to Headley, did you have any idea about this man or it even existed before the Americans told us?
P Chidambaram: No.
Vir Sanghvi: Isn’t that a failure on our part?
P Chidambaram: No.
Vir Sanghvi: The man comes here, he lives here, he does resonance and he goes back, files reports?
P Chidambaram: All that was before 26/11, he came to India only once after 26/11.
Vir Sanghvi: And we still didn’t know who he was?
P Chidambaram: He is a white, Caucasian looking person, American name, American Passport.
Vir Sanghvi: He has got his father’s name etc written on his passport?
P Chidambaram: It’s an American passport.
Vir Sanghvi: So we don’t suspect any American ever?
P Chidambaram: We do, provided there is some intelligence.
Vir Sanghvi: So isn’t that a failure that we didn’t have intelligence?
P Chidambaram: Because he didn’t do anything here after 26/11, he just came here once.
Vir Sanghvi: When we are piecing together the puzzle of what happened, this man appears to be in a large part of the puzzle yet we had no idea?
P Chidambaram: He has nothing to do with this puzzle.
Vir Sanghvi: With the 26/11 puzzle, he had no role on reckon at all?
P Chidambaram: He had a role in reckon, but he doesn’t appear in any pieces of the puzzle of 26/11 investigation. Because from what we gather through pictures, videos and that’s it, he did nothing else.
Vir Sanghvi: The other part of this Headley saga is that the American DEA sent him into Pakistan as an under cover agent, there are court records saying this, it is a matter of public record?
P Chidambaram: Much earlier there is speculation that once he changes identity or just before he changed his identity, he may have been used by one of the agencies of the US in drug enforcement.
Vir Sanghvi: This is not speculation, this is in court papers, he was let out of jail early by the DEA, the New York Times, every American papers carried this on the ground that they sending him as an under cover to Pakistan?
P Chidambaram: Americans have never admitted that.
Vir Sanghvi: They may not have admitted to you, but they newspapers have carried it, there are also court records?
P Chidambaram: The court records only show that his sentence was curtailed and he was let free.
Vir Sanghvi: This is what you thought was odd?
P Chidambaram: Why is it odd to me? It’s not odd, it’s quiet possible that he may have been used by one of the agencies.
Vir Sanghvi: You are accepting that?
P Chidambaram: I am willing to assume that.
Q Do you think he went rouge or was he working for one of the agencies?
P Chidambaram: We don’t know; we have no access to him.
Vir Sanghvi: Isn’t that in itself odd that they don’t give you access to Headley?
P Chidambaram: No, they have just reined him, there is a grand jury and there is a procedure there. We can still go to the Letter Rogatory route, please remember, the US is also governed by a tight legal system as ours; we would not give the access to the Americans to anyone here unless they go through the legal process.
Vir Sanghvi: Did we give them access to Kasab?
P Chidambaram: We did because at that time we needed the Americans very badly.
Vir Sanghvi: So is it that they don’t need us?
P Chidambaram: Not yet. If they want access to something else in India today I would ask them to go through the legal process, but the Kasab case is an exceptional case, we had to use the Americans.
Vir Sanghvi: I take the point you are making, but here you got Kasab who we gave access to and here they have Headley who they hide away from us?
P Chidambaram: I don’t think the two are counter comparable.
Vir Sanghvi: They haven’t even given many photographs of Headley?
P Chidambaram: They have. The access we gave to Kasab, they have done us quite a favor and in return for access to Kasab, they have helped us crack that case.
Vir Sanghvi: You think the case is now cracked?
P Chidambaram: I think so, but its sub judicious, so I don’t want to comment on it.
The verbatim interview transcript is available here: