For over a year, the bodies of nine men have been lying in a mortuary next to Mumbai’s Sir Jamshetjee Jejeebhoy Hospital — just a short walk from the buildings and streets where they killed 166 women, men, and children on November 26, 2008. The bodies are a ghoulish reminder that the whole truth about who was responsible for the horrors of that night is still elusive. Pakistani investigators, dossiers they submitted to India make clear, have been unable to establish the identity of the men who controlled the assault team, using satellite phones and voice-over-internet protocol connections — one of whom, an investigation by this newspaper revealed last week, was probably an Indian. Key suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders Sajid Mir and Muzammil Bhat, are still at large. We do not know who selected the facilities to be attacked, although evidence gathered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests the targets were identified well before Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley was despatched to garner the videotape to familiarise the members of the assault-team with their targets. We do not know why the attack was delayed beyond September 2008, when the Central Intelligence Agency first passed on warnings to India of an imminent attack. We do not even know the names of seven of the nine men whose bodies lie in the morgue.
There are many reasons why we must have answers to these questions. Justice for the victims, of course, is the first reason. But there is also a larger issue. India-Pakistan dialogue ought not to be held hostage to the fate of the Mumbai investigation, yet unless New Delhi is persuaded that Islamabad is serious about acting against terrorist groups targeting India from its soil, the odds are that any dialogue will be scarred by suspicion. Further, the process is likely to be undermined by future terrorist attacks. Pakistani investigators have had in their custody for a year three men they say played a key role in planning the attacks — Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, his deputy Mazhar Iqbal, and electronics expert Abdul Wajid. Yet they do not seem to have discovered that Headley had carried out reconnaissance in Mumbai and was in the process of planning further strikes in New Delhi and Pune. Investigations by journalists suggest that Lashkar camps are up and running in Pakistan. All this has fuelled suspicion that such jihadist groups enjoy the support not just of rogue elements in the state, but of the institution of Pakistan’s armed forces. India must do all it can to initiate meaningful dialogue and thus strengthen democratic forces in Pakistan. But any peace process will rest on sand unless Pakistan finds the will and the resolve to act against the enemies of peace operating from its soil.