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May 04, 2010 at 10:28am IST

Advantage Lakhvi, Saeed after Kasab verdict?

New Delhi: The guilty verdict on Ajmal Kasab may not have surprised Pakistan. The evidence of mass murder against him would have been too overwhelming and it may not have taken the Pakistani establishment too long to have decided to wash their hands off him.

The impact the verdict could have on the 20 conspirators facing trial in Pakistan is less clear. They include Lashkar and Jamaat ud Dawa chief Hafiz Sayeed and Lashkar commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Also in the list are Abu Hamza, Abu Kaahfa, Zarar Shah and Abu Al Kama. There's a retired Major Gen also who was present during the training of the Mumbai attackers.

Their counsel Khwaja Sultan claimed the Indian verdict would result in the main charge being dropped against his clients and they will be granted bail. "Our case in the Supreme Court for Lakhvi's acquittal has become much stronger after the Indian court's verdict," he said.

Pakistan perhaps has more reason to feel under pressure over David Coleman Headley. India is expected to get access to him soon. His revelations could lay bare the details of the nexus between the Pakistan military and the Jihadi groups and how they operate.

"The judgment is a message to Pakistan that they should not export terror to India. If they do and if the terrorists are apprehended, we will be able to bring them to justice and give them exemplary punishment," said the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram after the judgment was read by the special judge ML Tahaliyani at the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai on Monday.

But for now the focus is on the quantum of punishment the court will pronounce on Kasab. If it is death as most probably it will be, expect Pakistan to respond in kind, perhaps on Sarabjit Singh.