Just as he was about to be hanged at 7.30 am on 21st November 2012, the lone survivor of 2008 Mumbai terror attack Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab is reported to have told the jailor of Pune’s Yerwada Jail: “Dobara aisi galti nahin karunga (I won’t commit such a mistake ever again).” However, it was too late for the Pakistani terrorist to make amends in this life. In another life maybe but for that he has to be lucky enough not be born in a place and time where the strings of his fate are in the hands of people like Hafiz Saeed, who recruit the likes of Kasab from poor and remote areas of Pakistan and then brainwash them into mindless terror acts.
Yes, India did the right thing by executing Kasab and it was high time too. After all, all that we did was to extend his life by four years – a life which he was ready to sacrifice and was mentally prepared to give up when he landed in Mumbai to wage a war against India. And in the process we also ended up spending crores on the security of the man.
But whereas Kasab’s hanging must certainly have brought a sense of justice and some sense of closure to the families of victims of 26/11 attacks, the battle against terror that we fight everyday is far from over. And it will never be over if India does not talk tough with its neighbour Pakistan; it will never be over until ISI is not exposed; it will never be over if India does not pitch its position on terror on the global platform more vociferously; it will never be over if terror organizations like Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar-e-Toiba are not wiped out; and it will never be over till India does not shed its tag of being a soft state and act like Israel when needed.
After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, India did submit a formal request to the UN Security Council to put Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Hafiz Saeed on the list of organizations and individuals sanctioned by the UN for association with terrorism and the UN did subsequently declare Jamaat-ud-Dawa to be a LeT front. But the moot question is – is this enough?
On May 11, 2011 India revealed a list of its fifty most wanted fugitives who were hiding in Pakistan, naming Saeed as one of them. However, the list is gathering dust, while the man in question is a free man in Pakistan claiming to run a social and charitable organisation.
When in April 2012, America announced a bounty of 10 million dollars on Hafiz Saeed, for his involvement in the Mumbai attacks, he laughed it off by saying – “I am living my life in the open and the US can contact me whenever they want. I am not hiding in a cave”.
Given the above scenario, the real closure for victims of Mumbai attacks will only be possible when a terrorist like Hafiz Saeed is extradited to India and convicted for being the alleged mastermind of the bloodbath that ensued on the night of 26 November 2008 in the financial capital of the country. As Smita Salaskar, widow of slain inspector Vijay Salaskar said after Kasab’s execution – “Homage has been paid to my husband. But the real homage will be the conviction of other accused shielded in Pakistan”. K Unnikrishnan, father of NSG commando Sandeep Unnikrishnan who died fighting the terrorists at Taj, too echoed her emotions when he stated – “There is a long way to go for the sense of closure. Kasab’s execution is only one chapter. The perpetrators are still moving around in Pakistan.” Thus the real question is – can India do something similar what the United States did - hunt down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan’s backyard.
Kasab was only a puppet who probably till his dying day did not realise who he was fighting for, what he was fighting for and what did he really achieve in the end by the so called war that he came to fight with nine of his comrades, carrying guns. He belonged to a poor family and his father was a food vendor who could not afford to give him good education and promise of a better life. It is said that poverty-stricken Kasab took the path of crime and later came in contact with Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the vultures that prey on candidates like him. For them the lives of young men like Kasab are cheap and dispensable. It is said that his family was paid Rs 150,000 for being a part of Mumbai attack, considering that he would become a martyr.
So while Kasab lies buried in Pune’s Yerawada Jail, Hafiz Saeed continues to spew venom against India and Pakistan continues to live in a denial mode and preposterously claiming at one point of time that the terrorist was not given a fair trial. This coming from a country which has been dragging its feet in the trial of LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and six other Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks. Inspite of India asking its troublesome neighbour to speed up the trial against 26/11 terror accused and put an end to cross-border terrorism, Pakistan is perpetually pretending to be deaf.
All that Pakistan has done so far to atone for its sins is to detain Hafiz Saeed time and again or house arrest him once in a while and do lip service whenever its leaders meet our leaders, whether it’s Rehman Malik - Pakistan’s Interior Minister - meeting our Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde or Pakistani President Asif Zardari meeting our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
We need to ask ourselves – isn’t it high time that we stop treading the path of soft diplomacy with Pakistan and do some tough talking with them. Yes, bilateral relations are important, trade is necessary for economy and to engage in talks is crucial for peace in South Asia, but it cannot be at the cost of innocent lives being lost in senseless violence.
The Prime Minister of our country, Manmohan Singh said some time back – “We are still in the process of developing capabilities to take pre-emptive action in respect of terrorist threats. Realignment of operational approaches, training of police personnel and more effective collaboration among states and between states and the centre should form part of our overall strategy of dealing with the menace of terrorism.” For the sake of the common man let us pray that India is able to put all of the above together in place and soon.