ISI immunity frustrated Indian attempt
Sajjad Shaukat


Foreign-backed subversive activities inside Pakistan have deep connections with the propaganda against the country. In this regard, with assistance of the US-Israeli lobbies, India leaves no stone unturned in tarnishing the image of Pakistan, its army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) through concocted stories. But India was badly disappointed when recently, the US State Department conveyed to a New York federal court that under the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), Pakistan’s ISI and its two former chiefs, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, “enjoy immunity” in the case of Mumbai terror attacks of 2008. In this context, an Indian statement said, “The decision of the US authorities in this case is a cause of serious disappointment.”

Notably, in November 2010, the six legal heirs of the Mumbai catastrophe filed a civil law suit in a district court in New York about alleged support of ISI’s two ex-director generals including few others, and also asked Pakistan to dismantle Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). By following the self-fabricated story, the plaintiffs argued that the Mumbai attacks were deliberately planned and supervised by the ISI. India hired the services of a famous law firm Kreindler and Kreindler which was representing the plaintiffs. On the other side, Pakistan’s prime minister determined to defend the so-called case by directing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Pakistani ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman played a key role. For the purpose the services of a renowned law firm M/s Locke lord and Bissel (LL&B) were hired by Islamabad, while Ahmer Bilal Soofi served as local attorney. However, Pakistan’s plea was that under the FSIA, foreign governments and their employees could not be prosecuted in a US court. While the ISI has consistently been treated as part of the state organ of the country and operates under the Ministry of Defense—it and its employees like two DGs enjoy immunity under the FSIA.

The court’s judge referred the matter to US State Department for clarification of foreign immunity. Another dimension of the planted case is that in Oct 2009, American FBI arrested a US citizen, American-born Pakistani, David Headley from Chicago on the allegations of his involvement in 26/11 attacks. During the investigation, both Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) and FBI tried to implicate ISI through self-devised scheme regarding the said case. In this connection, on December 8, 2009, the FBI accused Headley of conspiring to bomb targets in Mumbai, providing material support to Pakistani-based Let. In March 2010, Headley entered into plea-bargain and confessed his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror-incident. He was also accused by the FBI of reporting to Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistani militant commander associated with Al Qaeda, but Kashmiri denied this in an interview.

In June 2010, India’s NIA was granted access to cross-examine Headley. Under torture by FBI, he maligned the ISI for training and using him for Mumbai mayhem. By availing his confession, Indian rulers blamed the ISI for involvement in the 26/11 attacks. During her visit to Pakistan on July 19, 2010, while hinting towards ISI, even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked, “I know…Headley was “fully cooperative and told Indian and American investigators that the Mumbai attacks were carried out by the Pakistani” LeT. Clinton also said, “Headley and Faisal Shahzad…responsible for the botched car bomb attack in New York, were radicalised in the US but were “facilitated, directed and operationalised” from Pakistan.

False allegations of Indian and US officials including their investigative agencies were exposed when on May 31, 2011, David Headley changed his testimony, absolving the ISI leadership from planning the 2008 Mumbai tragedy. It is mentionable that in 1987, Headley was arrested on drug trafficking charges, and was sentenced to less than two years in jail. Afterwards, he conducted undercover surveillance operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). No doubt, this proves that Headley had a deal with the American authorities which allowed him mild punishment in exchange for a promise of give false statement against ISI and its two chiefs.

Some reports suggest that Headley who visited Pakistan on a number of occasions also became a CIA agent to infiltrate Al Qaeda. Therefore, Indian high officials’ efforts for his extradition remained unsuccessful. According to American media reports, Headley will be sentenced on January 17, 2013. As regards ISI, Lashkar-e-Taiba and its leader Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan has denied Indian charges in relation to Mumbai terror attacks. In this context, Islamabad not only took action against this organisation, but also fully cooperated with New Delhi for the culprits. India has also complained that Pakistan did not put the LeT leaders, especially Hafiz Saeed, on trial. In this regard, during his recent visit to New Delhi, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik argued that the perpetrators were “non-state actors” and despite it, the Pakistan government was ready for further cooperation. He also explained that Hafiz Saeed had been arrested, but due to lack of evidence, he was released by the Lahore High Court.

India has recently executed Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor amongst the Mumbai attackers. In fact, RAW had taken forced statement from him that he had links with ISI and LeT. It is notable that India has been frustrated by the US court about the immunity of ISI and its ex-chiefs, but it is regrettable that by following the external propaganda, some journalists of Pakistan have misguided the people through their self-created assumptions by saying that the US decision to extend immunity to two former ISI chiefs in the 26/11 Mumbai terror-incident case is in accordance with a secret bargaining deal between the two countries, and thus Islamabad released Raymond Davis, an undercover CIA agent”, who had killed two youngsters in Lahore on January 27, 2011. Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson has strongly rejected such insinuations of media as “totally baseless and incorrect.” Nonetheless, ISI immunity by the US has frustrated Indian attempt to prosecute Pakistan’s superior intelligence agency by raising false allegations.