THE secret execution and burial of Ajmal Kasab, the sole gunman to survive the 2008 tragedy in Mumbai, revives the memory of a senseless but well-planned act of mass murder that brought Pakistan and India to the brink of war. Four years later, many questions still remain unanswered on this side of the border: who were the brains behind the slaughter of the innocent civilians? What did they propose to achieve? Where and how were the gunmen trained and armed? Who brainwashed them into undertaking that ignoble mission? Who provided the operational facilities, including the boat journey to the Indian port? And why did these activities go unnoticed in Pakistan? Subsequently, the authorities in Islamabad acted to establish facts that distanced the state from the work of a few fanatic killers. But that doesn’t serve to hide the shortcomings in the working of Pakistan’s anti-terrorism apparatus and its inability to keep tabs on organisations — not necessarily banned — which manage to amass enough resour-ces to run clandes-tine cells that undertake fiendish operations of such magnitude.
The Pakistani part of the trial is dragging on, prompting allegations from New Delhi that Islamabad is not serious. The fact that the prosecution came up with some new information about the Pakistani handlers of the suspects and the money transfer mechanism to shed some light on the case gives hope that the case will be pursued with speed and that justice will be done so that those responsible for the massacre are exposed. Above all, Pakistanis deserve to know what the government intends to do to ensure that such a tragedy is not repeated. The issue is linked to the hydra-headed monster that terrorism has become for us. Militants are now operating throughout Pakistan and feel free to choose their targets, strike at will and plan operations abroad. The lesson to be drawn from the Mumbai events and its aftermath is that the government must make efforts to ensure that the state and citizens unite to root out what has become the biggest threat to our peace of mind as well as to our own and regional security.