Less than four months after the Mumbai attacks, in February 2009, Pakistan delivered to India a report of its Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The FIA had found the safehouses of the terrorists and the boats they used; it traced the shop from where they had bought an engine for the dinghy in which they made landfall, and the calls made on VoIP. Shuja Pasha, then head of the ISI, briefed the Islamabad-based diplomatic corps, including the Indian high commissioner, on the findings. Rehman Malik, then interior minister, presented the findings to the media, the first official public acknowledgement that the 10 men who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008 had set off from the Thatta coast in Sindh province. The man who sat quietly next to him on that day, FIA director Tariq Khosa, wrote in the Dawn newspaper earlier this week, summing up the investigation.
There is nothing in the article that New Delhi and Islamabad do not know already. Its importance thus is not in the “revelations” — there are none — but as a reminder to the Pakistan government and establishment that there is a solid investigation by its own premier agency which can be put to work against those on trial in Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks. Indeed, it was on the basis of the FIA investigations that six people were arrested and put on trial. With Pakistani hypernationalism still high in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the FIA investigation was nothing less than an act of courage. For the first time, the agency was investigating something that cut so close to the Pakistani bone, and Khosa had apparently been given a free hand. The report did not mention the Lashkar-e-Taiba by name, but Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, among the first to be arrested, was a top leader of the group. It was when the case went to court that, as Khosa has rightly pointed out, the delays began, starting with the transfer of judges and the “dilatory tactics” of the accused.
That a Khosa exists in Pakistan is great news, but while what he has said may have given India some fodder prior to the national security advisors’ meeting later this month, it alters little on the Pakistani side with regard to the Mumbai case. The Gurdaspur attack and the alleged terrorist infiltration in Udhampur on Wednesday show that in order to tackle terrorism emanating from Pakistan, there is much more work to be done — through behind the scenes diplomatic engagement with Islamabad, perhaps even with countries that have better relations with Pakistan, instead of point-scoring on what is known already.