As the much hyped Tawwahur Rana trial gets underway in Chicago, India poses an optimistic note since they expect answers to a lot of their questions. Sources both in the NIA and the Intelligence Bureau say that they have decided to adopt a wait and watch policy during the course of this trial and would prepare their next move only once the trial is complete.
A draft of the questionnaire is already ready and the Indian agencies ie the NIA will head to the United States once they are accorded permission to probe Rana. Sources say that an extradition of Rana is highly unlikely and one must not get too optimistic about the same. Pressure and requests through diplomatic channels will be made to secure him, but at the moment it appears that the extradition is a distant possibility. Hence the Rana case would be on the lines of the David Headley one. This would again mean that Rana would be convicted in India, but in absentia.
Although India would have preferred having Rana in their custody they are still optimistic since this trial is not just about one case, but it would put a cloud on Pakistan’s claims that it does not support terror. If at all Rana sticks to his statement that he was working for the ISI and not the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, then it would generate immense heat on Pakistan. Moreover it will also compliment the most wanted list that India has just prepared which makes a mention of several members of the Pakistan establishment who played a part in the 26/11 attack.
Indian agencies say that this trial is more important for them when compared to the US. We have lost more citizens in that attack and more importantly it has been carried out on our soil. However there are various laws which prevent an extradition and hence we need to make the best use of whatever information that we get.
Although during the trial, the main focus would be on the links between the ISI and terror, India would still go ahead with its own set of questions. The likes of Sajid Mir, Major Iqbal and the rest all need to be exposed and these were the persons who were part of the horrific plan since day one. In addition to this the testimony by Headley who would be a witness in this case is also very important since he will need to substantiate his claims as to how Rana had helped him scout targets while he was in India.
The IB says that this trial will be a big headache for the ISI in particular which will need a face lift after this trial. The process to shift/change a lot of senior officials in that outfit has already commenced and once implicated Pakistan would not want any of them to part of the establishment. Pakistan at any cost cannot afford the questioning of these men since the lid of the entire establishment could be blown off. This country would make it look as though it has entered into a cleansing act to keep the rest of the world quiet but in reality would be protecting these men.
However Indian agencies also wonder whether the trial may live up to all the hype. On one hand Rana may speak, but then it would be hard to establish his testimony due to the numerous aliases that have been used by these ISI officials at the time of the operation. Take the case of Sajid Mir who continues to be a mystery man for all investigating agencies. He is without a doubt the most important man in this entire case and the Pakistan version of Mir continues to be that he is nothing but a cleric and no such person exists in the army or the ISI. In addition to this one cannot expect much of a testimony from David Headley to strengthen the Rana case. He has a plea bargain in place and one can say with a certain amount of confidence that he will not divert even an inch from what he has already spoken before to both the Federal and Indian authorities.