India has other options on Headley


The recent sentencing of David Coleman Headley by a US court for 35 years for involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai attack drew sharp reaction, with calls that the Pakistani-American be brought to India and hanged. Without losing a breath, the political class and the government announced "we are pursuing his extradition".

However, as per the plea bargain by Headley before the US authorities, he cannot be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark. The fact is that clamour apart, India doesn't have many options. Once the emotional outburst is over, the government will have to engage with Americans to work out a possibility to utilise Headley, so as to nail others. For the purpose of investigations into the 26/11 attack, it can be easily concluded that he has revealed what he knew. The challenge for India will be to make him depose before the Indian court as an accused.

The US attorney has assured of Headley's presence "in any foreign judicial proceedings... by way of deposition, video-conferencing or letters rogatory", but in the US.

India will have to work out modalities with its US counterparts for such a deposition through video conferencing. This will speed up trial in the 26/11 attack where the role of Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed and other actors from Pakistan's ISI still needs to be "firmed" up. Headley could also provide the evidence need to nail Pakistan.

As things stand, Headley could stay behind bars till he turns 80-85. India could also mount pressure on both the US and Pakistan to make Headley testify before Pakistan's court trying accused in the 26/11 attack. Pakistan has so far not shown any interest in Headley, even as reports on the trial have not been very encouraging. In fact, LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, by all accounts, is enjoying all kinds of liberties inside a Pakistani prison.

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