The Pakistan delegation visiting India led by Interior Minister Mr. Abdul Rehman Malik has sought from our government the latest update on the Samjhauta Express bomb blast probe. This query was anticipated. It was predicted. And our government’s response could change the name of the game regarding Pakistan’s role in terror.
The Pakistan delegation’s request is doubtless inspired by the reported developments in the probe conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into charges leveled against alleged Hindu terrorist Swami Aseemanand. Apart from other acts of terror the Swami is also accused of perpetrating the Samjhauta Express blast which took the lives of some Pakistani citizens.
Hindu terror against Indian Muslims is on a different footing from terror against Pakistani citizens. The latter puts India and Pakistan on the same page insofar as cross border terrorism is concerned. The charge against Aseemanand is based upon his confession. However his lawyer had alleged that his client had confessed to his role in the Samjhauta Express bomb blast under police duress. It has been repeatedly asked in these columns that the government provide a satisfactory rebuttal of this charge.
The 1267 committee of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) mandated sanctions on the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, froze assets, banned travel and imposed an arms embargo on Arif Qasmani, a Karachi businessman who it described as the ‘chief coordinator’ for Lashkar’s links with outside groups. In its press release the 1267 committee stated:
“Qasmani has worked with LeT to facilitate terrorist attacks, to include the July 2006 train bombing in Mumbai, India, and the February 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing in Panipat, India…Arif Qasmani has also provided financial and other support to Al Qaeda…Al Qaeda provided Qasmani with operatives to support… the February 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing in Panipat, India’.”
The names of the four Lashkar operatives who carried out the Samjhauta attack were provided by the UNSC report as Arif Qasmani, Fazeel-A-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen al-Peshawari, Mohammed Yahya Mujahid and Nasir Javaid.
In light of this incompatibility between the findings of the UN and the NIA allegations against Swami Aseemanand, one wrote on January 16, 2011:
“If Aseemanand is correct, the UN was wrong. If the UN was correct, Aseemanand is wrong.”
This glaring incompatibility between the UN and NIA findings has been repeatedly highlighted in these columns but to no avail. Neither the government nor opposition, nor media, nor the courts seem to be bothered. On 6 February 2011 one wrote:
“Now India and Pakistan have been put on the same page regarding terror. Therefore both governments can cooperate to fight terror on an equal footing. Is that what the scandalous charade about the purported Swami Aseemanand confession was all about? Was his confession a crude device to set the foundation for a joint fight against terror? If so, nothing more stupid, self-destructive and demeaning could have been attempted by the Indian government.
There is no doubt that Hindu terror outfits do exist. There is no doubt that India and Pakistan must cooperate to jointly fight terror. Both facts have been consistently repeated in these columns. But there is a straightforward and honest way of achieving cooperation between India and Pakistan. The Aseemanand affair has all the signs of crude subterfuge to achieve it. It reveals a conspiracy of silence involving the government, the opposition and the entire national media…If the government is speaking the truth regarding Hindu terror behind the Samjhauta blast it should follow the honourable course. It should inform the UN and the US that Lashkar was not involved in the blast and poor Hafiz Saeed and his followers are needlessly being demonized.
How is such glaring contradiction being ignored in an official investigation? Sadly, it is. Despite it the government, the opposition and the media remain dumb. Truly we live in Incredible India!”
Now the chickens have come home to roost. Pakistan wants to know the latest in the Samjhauta Express probe involving Swami Aseemanand. If the government sticks to its version it will have to revise its estimate about the role of Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Toiba. Both were nailed as terrorist by the UN on the basis of their alleged role in the Samjhauta Express blast. How could they be guilty if Aseemanand was responsible?