David Coleman Headley’sdepositionbeforea Mumbai trial court via video conferencing from an undis- closed location in the United States on Monday,
February 8, is a corroboration of what Indian investigators
already know and thus nothing new. Yet, this first ever for-
eign terrorist’s deposition before an Indian court is of crucial
importance in the larger India-Pakistan bilateral context.
The development won’t change Headley’s own status. The
Pakistani American has turned an approver and was given a
conditional pardon by the Mumbai court in December 2015.
The US has refused to hand him over to India. The 56 year
old may not walk out alive from the American prison where
he has been serving a 35-year sentence since 2009.
But his deposition is explosive from the Indian viewpoint
as it strengthens India’s case legally as well as diplomatically
in nailing down Pakistan’s nefarious role in fomenting terrorism in India and shows that the dividing line between
Pakistan’s State and non-State actors had completely blurred
in the case of Mumbai’s 26/11 terror strikes.
Headley has given graphic description of how the Pakistani
military establishment repeatedly choreographed the 26/11
attacks in collaboration with non-State actors and launched
three attempts in consecutive months from September to
November 2008 after the first two failed.
The damning deposition by Headley will go a long way in
tightening the screws on Islamabad diplomatically as
Headley has named and shamed Pakistan like few Pakistanis
have since scientist A Q Khan.
As far as the 26/11 trial is concerned, India knows that it
can’t expect the moon from Pakistan. Yet, India will lap up
this opportunity and prepare another dossier on the 26/11
terror strikes and hand over to Pakistan.
Inevitably Pakistan will be in a denial mode. It is not for
nothing that Headley’s deposition has coincided with reports
emanating from Pakistan saying that Islamabad hasn’t found
any evidence of linking Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood
Azhar with last month’s Pathankot terror attack.
A concrete gain from Headley’s testimony is that it is yet
another nail in the coffin of the unholy alliance between
Pakistan’s State and non-State actors.
It may or may not produce quick results. It may not compel
Pakistan to bring to book all its nationals who perpetrated
the Mumbai mayhem in November 2008.
But, then, one shouldn’t have a myopic or a cynical view of
the concrete deliverables of Headley’s deposition from the
Diplomacy, after all, is not a Twenty20 cricket match but a
The enormous international pressure mounted by India on
Pakistan, first in the 26/11 case and now over Pathankot, will
not go waste. In fact, it is because of these pressures
that while terror acts have become a daily happening
in Pakistan, the number of high profile terror attacks
in India has declined sharply.
Pakistan’s all-powerful military establishment is
not unaware of the rapidly changing climate for
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of normalising relations with Pakistan provides a face-saver for Rawalpindi, headquarters of the Pakistani
A positive, forward-looking, initiative from
Pakistan can change the India-Pakistan dynamics in
a jiffy. Pakistan may not be expected to prosecute
Masood Azhar for Pathankot or ISI officials named
by Headley in the 26/11 case.
Yet, India will be pushing the envelope, knowing in
its heart of hearts that no breakthrough can be
Nonetheless, the Headley case may provide an opportunity
to the Pakistani military establishment to take a positive step
in bilateral relations with India to divert attention from the
Who knows? Wait and watch!
Rajeev Sharma is an independent journalist and strategic
analyst who tweets @Kishkindha.
What Headley’s deposition
means for India
‘His deposition shows that the dividing line between Pakistan’s
State and non-State actors had completely blurred in Mumbai’s
26/11 terror strikes,’ says Rajeev Sharma.
gave in his testimony is that the ISI provides ‘financial, military and moral support’ to terror outfits like the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the Jaish-e-Moh-ammad and the Hizbul
Mujahideen and that he
was working for the Pakistan army and the ISI besides
the Le T.
Well, this is something
that has been an open secret for years not only for
India, but for the entire
world. This doesn’t change
anything for India and only
reiterates the universally
acknowledged fact that the
nexus between State and
non State actors continues
to be the template for a
country like Pakistan which claims itself to be a ‘
victim’ of terrorism.
Now let’s come to the point mentioned earlier that though Headley’s deposition may have the potential of putting the Pakistani military establishment in a doghouse this would actually
It will be business as usual as far as
Pakistan’s strategy of using terrorism as
an instrument of its foreign policy is
concerned till the US-led international
community warn Pakistan of Afghani-
stan-type military strikes that bombed
out the Taliban in the wake of the 9/11
terror attacks on the American main-
land. But to think that the Americans
would ever do such a thing is nothing
short of day dreaming.
is of crucial importance
for the Western world as
long as Afghanistan co-
ntinues to simmer. The
kind of morass Afghani-
stan has found itself in
for the last four decades
will continue for many
years, if not decades.
is Pakistan’s insurance
policy. Pakistan knows
this. That’s why the We-
stern world has come
up with the concept of
‘good terrorist’ (one
who doesn’t attack the
West) and ‘bad terrorist’ (one who
attacks the West).
And David Coleman Headley is a
Rajeev Sharma is an independent
journalist and strategic analyst who
Beware! ISI may try to attack Indian scientists again
David Coleman Headley
evidence to prove the case.
But if Headley testifies against Jundal, that he was in
Pakistan during the 26/11 conspiracy and attacks, I think
Jundal’s conviction would turn into certainty.
Do you see any chance of Saeed or Lakhvi being extradited to India due to Headley’s testimony?
I don’t think there is any possibility, because generally
a sovereign country does not extradite its citizens to
another country although Pakistan did so earlier with the
US in connection with Ramzi Yusuf, the bomber of the
first attack on the World Trade Centre in 1993.
Also, Pakistan’s relations with India are different.
They will say that they have themselves launched an
investigation in this case. They are prosecuting because
under their penal code if their citizen commits an offence
in a foreign country, there are two jurisdictions.
Firstly the foreign country, where the offence took
place, and secondly, where the accused is a citizen. In this
case, a Pakistani committed an offence in India, so India
has jurisdiction, but Pakistan also has jurisdiction in the
Since Pakistan has already started its judicial process,
they would certainly say that the primacy would lie on
the prosecution that is happening in Pakistan and not in
India. I don’t think there is any chance of any extradition
in this case because the judicial process in Pakistan is
‘Headley has nothing to
lose, but will only gain’
Much of what David Headley has told the Mumbai court about the 26/11 attacks is something that has been an open secret for years not only for India, but for the entire world. SANJAY SAWANT