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4 pm Nov 12, 2012

Is the noose on the 26/11 plotters finally tightening?

With Pakistani investigators revealing the details of 26/11 Mumbai attackers' training including the role of lashkar-e-Taiba in a court of law, is the noose on the 26/11 plotters finally tightening?
8 questions answered
  • Do you see the recent revelations as a change in Pakistan's approach towards home-grown terror? Asked by: Anurag Thakur
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri That is probably going too far. I see it more as a recognition by Pakistan that they need to make a concession on the 26/11 investigation if they want Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan next year and the peace process to move on to the issues that they are interested in -- Siachen etc.
  • Do U feel any Change in Pak attitude towards India Asked by: Samarjeet Narayan
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri Yes. There is a sense, present in the latter part of the Musharraf years but returning again, that India is no longer the number one priority problem of Pakistan. Relations with the US, the general Afghan environment and the Tehreek e Taliban are seen as more pressing threats. Which gives India a window to move relations forward.
  • Post-US withdrawal from Afghanistan, what do you think should be the right step for India? Putting boots on the ground so that the trouble-makers have little chance of return? Asked by: Sahir ur-Rehman
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri I would have supported putting troops on the ground earlier, to support the anti-Taliban war effort. Now it makes little sense to do so when the war is winding down. What needs to be done now is to build up the ability of the Kabul regime to fight off the Taliban on their own. This has a number of facets; a) use diplomacy to keep money and arms flowing to Karzai, b) train and equip the Afghan army to the best of our ability, c) urge the US to keep special forces, etc, to buttress Afghanistan, etc.
  • Sir, in view of the fact that the 26/11 plotters belong to Pakistan and trained there, do you expect a fair trail in Pak? Asked by: Shyam Vadalker
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri No. The Lashkar e Taiba is simply too closely intertwined with the Pakistan military and still too lauded within Pakistan as freedom fighters for Islamabad to put its leadership on trial and ban the organisation -- which is what a genuine trial would entail. The real endgame for India is to constrain Pakistan's ability to use terrorism against India.
  • Does Pakistan still see these Jehadi outfits as strategic assets? After all, their own army and security establishment is fighting the same forces now. Asked by: Biplab Bhaduri
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri Keep in mind that there are three or four different groups which the media clumps together as the "Taliban." One of them, Tehreek e Taliban or the Pakistan Taliban, are fighting Islamabad. The original or Afghan Taliban, led by Mullah Omar, are fighting the US and Kabul. The Haqqani Network has attacked both US, Afghan and Indian targets. The former is a sworn enemy of Pakistan. The last is an ally of the ISI and is very much a strategic asset. Pakistan's military has yet to admit that jihadi groups are a double-edge sword, though some elements privately admit that this may be the case.
  • Any Chance Frankly Finding Solution for 26/11 plotters from their Judiciary Asked by: Samarjeet Narayan
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri No. As mentioned earlier, the Lashkar is simply too close to the Pakistan military for that to happen. What India can and is trying to do is to defang the Lashkar, and Pakistan's use of cross-border terrorism, by persuading Islamabad that this is a policy that will gain it nothing. This should be done by a) showing that India's power trajectory is rising too rapidly, b) making sure that other countries press Pakistan hard when it uses such terror and c) alternating carrots and sticks to show Pakistan India can hit back and also reward mature policy decisions by Islamabad. India's signalling hasn't been as coherent as it should, but the messsage is slowly getting through.
  • How is the Visit of Sri Nitish kumar proceeding in Pakistan Asked by: Samarjeet Narayan
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri I generally think it is a good thing for state leaders to be involved in soft diplomacy. Nitish Kumar's visit is still going on but his schedule hits the right notes: a visit to Hindu and Sikh places of worship, visit to pre-Islamic civilisational sites, commemoration of Jinnah (and thus his vision of a modern Pakistan), as well as a briefing about the economic progress being made in Bihar, the poorest of Indian states and one marred by communal violence. Pakistanis have a number of myths about India that need to be dispelled including that Muslim Indians live a life of terror and the economic progress India has made is a mirage. Ending those will make it easier to deal with Pakistan over time.
  • Thanks and happy Deepawali Asked by: Samarjeet Narayan
  • Pramit Pal Chaudhuri Happy Diwali to all of you!

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Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Foreign editor, Hindustan Times