With the United States ready to provide India access to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) operative David Headley at an early date, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday ordered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to start the necessary paperwork.
<b1>Chidambaram’s directive followed his “long conversation” with US Attorney General Eric Holder that clarified several aspects of Headley’s plea agreement where he confessed to his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
India hopes that access to Headley would help build a case against other conspirators in Pakistan who have gone unnamed, including Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed and army officers.
On Saturday, Chidambaram slammed Pakistan for its reluctance to act. The plea agreement was the “most damning indictment” of the role played by certain persons in Pakistan and should spur it to act against all conspirators and bring them to justice, the minister said.
“Nothing short of that will be acceptable to India or will satisfy world opinion,” he said in a statement.
Chidambaram’s renewed call for action against the Lashkar was backed by the visiting US Assistant Secretary of State, Robert O Blake, who said it was “very important” for Islamabad to rein in the LeT, a terrorist group that has “global ambitions” and had been targeting Americans as well.
Holder is understood to have indicated that the access to Headley could come earlier than expected by India. In his plea agreement, Headley had agreed to the postponement of his sentencing until after the conclusion of his cooperation.
This condition suggests that getting access to Headley “could be a matter of weeks; not more than a month or two”, a senior government official associated with the case said.