The deposition of David Coleman Headley before a Mumbai court via a video link from the United States provides a plethora of chilling details about the attack on Mumbai by 10 Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists from Pakistan on the night of November 26, 2008. It was a terrorist attack that killed 165 people and changed the very complexion of urban terrorism. The fact that nine of the terrorists were killed and the tenth, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was hanged later on does not alter the diabolic and hostile attitude of Pakistan to India. This is a fact of life underscored by two important revelations during the course of Headley’s deposition. One is that there were two earlier attempts to attack Mumbai in the months of September and October 2008. The first attempt by the same 10 terrorists trained by the Lashkar-E-Toiba was unsuccessful because the boat in which they left Pakistan hit rocks near Karachi and disintegrated. The 10 terrorists were saved because they were wearing their life jackets, but the explosives and weapons the boat was carrying were lost. The second attempt a month later also failed for reasons not yet specified. The other important revelation was that Pakistan’s ISI was closely connected with the training of the 10 terrorists as well as the training of Headley who was used for intelligence and surveillance activities. During the course of his trial, Headley also mentioned the mes ofAbdul Rehman Pasha, a retired major from the Pakistan Army (aka Major Abdur Rahman Hashmi) who is number three on India’s list of the ‘most wanted’ after Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim. Pasha is suspected to head an ISI-backed anti-India module called the Karachi Project which focuses on using Indian citizens against their own country in terrorist activities.
As is well known by now, Headley is a Pakistan origin American agent (his mother is American) who joined his mother in Philadelphia years after she had left Pakistan following a separation from her husband. Headley joined college but never completed his studies and eventually went rogue, returned to Pakistan, became a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative and conducted surveillance for the Mumbai attacks. He was so confident of his immunity (mainly due to the colour of his skin and his American me) that he maged to enter India eight times. What does not go too well for the Indian administration (particularly its visa officials) is the ease with which Headley was able to secure an Indian visa despite furnishing incorrect information. This is what he had to say in the course of his deposition: “All details except the place of birth, date of birth, mother’s tiolity and passport number were incorrect in my visa application. I gave incorrect information for visa to the Consulate General of India in Chicago to protect my cover. Everything else about me was incorrect.” None of this goes well for India’s visa officials who seem to have very little awareness of the hazards they can create for the country’s security by failing to exercise the necessary care and caution in issuing visas. The general perception seems to be that visa officials are very lenient with visitors from the United States, Cada, Australia and European countries and are very strict in respect of visitors from African and other Asian countries. This discrimition based on skin colour defies all logic and ratiol conduct and needs to be rectified at once.
Headley’s deposition is significant because it clearly establishes Pakistan’s real intentions vis-à-vis India regardless of all the diplomatic claptrap resorted to from time to time to pretend that Islamabad is doing everything possible to ensure cordial bilateral relations between the two countries. It also establishes that important wings of the Pakistan government like its ISI have always helped Pakistani terrorists in every adventure directed against India. Headley’s deposition before a Mumbai court constitutes evidence and ebles India to demand that the kingpins of the 26/11 attack of Mumbai be handed over to India. We know that Pakistan will not oblige, but now with Headley’s deposition before a court, the matter can be brought up even before the United tions and the Intertiol Court in the Hague. And no matter how long it takes, Pakistan cannot always go scot free merely on the strength of denials.