Another anniversary, not an iota changes in Pak sponsored terrorism.


Mumbai Nov 27: Eleven years after the terrorist attack on Mumbai, masterminded by Pakistan Army in collusion with its terror proxy, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), there is no sign of the guilty being punished nor Pakistan giving up the policy of using terrorists as instruments of State policy. A total of 166 persons, Indians and foreigners, were killed in the attack.
For all the sanctions, rewards and proscriptions, Pakistan today remain as much a terrorist state as it was in November 2008 and its terrorist agents like LeT remain resourceful and dangerous. Terrorist groups like LeT are operational and ready, under the patronage of army, to carry out another episode of Mumbai attack.
This is because there were two sets of people involved in the 2008 attack—the known ones from LeT and the unknowns, their masters, acting as one unit to target India and not one of them have been prosecuted.
Who are these unknowns? They are part of ISI’s Directorate, ranking from Majors to Major Generals, tasked with planning and executing the terrorist attack. Well-known US journalist Bob Woodward in his book, Obama’s War, has revealed General Shuja Pasha, the then head of ISI, admitting to his CIA counterpart Mike Hayden that 'rogue' elements linked to the army were involved in the attack.
Pakistan has of course refused to identify any of them, although names and designations of officers directly involved in the recruitment, training and execution have been provided to the government of Pakistan. The blanket denial of the involvement of the state, in other words Pakistan Army, in the attack has been so overpowering that Nawaz Sharif, once a powerful Prime Minister, had to face such a dreadful wrath from the Generals over his rare admission, in an interview to the Dawn newspaper in May 2018 about the state letting non-state actors like LeT to carry out the attack. Not only was he hounded ruthlessly, the newspaper Dawn found its supply chain being blocked and his correspondents under close surveillance.
The known accused too have enjoyed no less immunity despite all assurances and reassurances from successive Prime Ministers, including Nawaz Sharif. Almost all of the known main accused in the attack on Mumbai in November 2008 are free, out on bail, planning another terror attack on India. The trial pending in a Rawalpindi court has come to a halt and there is no indication of it coming to any conclusion in the near future. The army refused any assistance and the court willingly created the ruse of summoning Indian witnesses to block any meaningful progress in the trial.
Hafiz Saeed, the head of LeT, with a $10 million reward on his head, proscribed by the UN and a host of countries, lives a free life, with his family, at his Jauhar Town residence in Lahore. He was arrested in July this year, not for his involvement in the terrorist attack, but for raising funds through a network of fake charity organisations to mask the terrorist profile of the group. But within a fortnight, he was out on bail.
This drama of arrest and bail of Saeed has been frequent since the Mumbai terror attack that it no longer comes as a surprise. Commenting on the latest release, the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs summed up the fraud played by Pakistan : ``Pakistan wasn’t searching for him for 10 years. He’s been living freely and was arrested and released in December 2001, May 2002, October 2002, August 2006 (twice), December 2008, September 2009, January 2017. ``
The state patronage enjoyed by Saeed could be understood more clearly from the manner in which the Punjab government, in collusion with the Generals, gave a grant of Rs 82 million, to his group, little more than a year after the terrorist attack on Mumbai. The state support gave him enough resources and leverage to escape any prosecution while expanding his terrorist empire. His clout with the army gave him enough gumption to float a political party and to put up candidates for the general elections.
The story of Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi, the master trainer of terrorists involved in the attack, is no different. He was arrested in 2009 but was bailed out in 2015 by the Lahore High Court. His present assignment from the army is to train terrorists and raise funds to plan another attack against India, on receiving signal from them. He was last seen in 2018 raising funds for terrorist activities in Punjab.
Then there are several others whom Pakistan has chosen to leave out, for the simple reason that their prosecution could lead to the doorsteps of GHQ, Rawalpindi, for the attack which shook the world as much as the September 11, 2001 attack. In a significant indicator, the US State Department last year announced a reward of $5 million "for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of any individual who committed, conspired to commit, or aided or abetted" the execution of the attack. It was the third reward by the US—first for Saeed and the second one of $2 million for his brother-in-law Abdul Rahman Makki.