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'Pak wanted to save Kasab from the gallows'

May 10, 2010 12:08 IST

Pakistan has reacted cautiously to the death sentence awarded to Ajmal Kasab, arrested during the terror siege on Mumbai in November 2008, and has withdrawn its request for the extradition of the terrorist from Faridkot.

Kasab's fast-track trial and subsequent verdict has had little effect on Islamabad, as it continues to drag its feet over taking action against the Mumbai terror attacks suspects roaming free in Pakistan.

Chander D Sahay, former chief of the India's intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing, believes that India took the right step by ignoring Pakistan's plea for Kasab's custody. In an interview with rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, he explains the motive behind such a request by the Pakistan government.

What is your opinion on Pakistan's attempts to seek the custody of 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab?

Pakistan sought the custody of Ajmal Kasab to ostensibly try him in their courts. In my view, Pakistan took such a step to save him from going to the gallows. As in the earlier case (when terror suspect Rashid Rauf, accused of plotting the bombing of British flights, escaped from the custody of Pakistani police in Rawalpindi, while on his way to court. He was later reportedly killed in an American drone strike), Ajmal Kasab too would have escaped from custody and would have been subsequently killed in a drone attack by the United States.

Pakistan made a formal request for Kasab's extradition through Interpol. Do you think India did the right thing by going ahead with the trial at such a stage?

I have pointed out the UK incident and told you exactly what would have happened (if Kasab had been extradited). Even in legal terms, I would say that our decision to go ahead with the trial despite the extradition request was right.

Kasab was a mere pawn; the masterminds of the 26/11 terror attack are still at large in Pakistan. Do you think India could have handed over Kasab in exchange for (Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder) Hafiz Saeed or the rest of the LeT top brass?

Pakistan will not act on the list of terrorists given to it by the Indian authorities under any circumstance, even if a deal were to be struck between the two countries. Let me remind you that according to the authorities in Pakistan, even (underworld don) Dawood Ibrahim is not traceable in Pakistan.

How will the judgment against Ajmal Kasab affect diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan?

This verdict against Ajmal Kasab would have no implications at all on Indo-Pak ties.
 
Do you think the 26/11 trial can be complete without India getting the chance to try alleged mastermind Hafiz Saeed?

The trial against him has already taken place in-absentia and he has been found guilty. This is a perfectly legal procedure. India did the right thing.

Do you think India should have waited to get access to (LeT operative) David Headley and then pronounced the verdict in the Mumbai terror attack case?

That was not necessary at all. He can be tried separately. The trial against David Headley can be conducted as when the investigating agencies file an additional or supplementary charge-sheet.