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Thirteen Years After the Mumbai Terror Attacks, Perpetrators Yet to Face Justice

Washington, DC – Thirteen years after the Mumbai terrorist attack, the families of 166 victims – which included six American citizens – still await justice, while the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba masterminds of the attacks are safely under the protection of Pakistan’s army and intelligence agencies.

In response to Global Strat View’s (GSV) question about what steps the US is taking to bring the Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders to justice, a State Department spokesperson responded, “The United States remains committed to bringing those who planned and supported the 2008 Mumbai attack to justice. We continue to encourage the Government of Pakistan to take action against all militant and terrorist groups without distinction, including those responsible for Mumbai.”

In a phone interview with GSV, former Canadian diplomat and politician Chris Alexander said that this reflects the reality that the Biden administration, as with most US administrations in recent decades, has chosen to engage with Pakistan without proactive efforts or coercive diplomacy such as sanctions to change longstanding Pakistani behavior — this in spite of evidence that Pakistan remains a prolific state sponsor of terrorism.

Alexander, who served as the first resident Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003-05, commented, “It is a policy paradox for a nation that has worked to counter terrorism around the world. This is a source of weakness for US policy, speaking to a pattern of inconsistency, especially with regard to Pakistan, that has harmed US national interests and the collective interests of US allies.”

In a joint statement issued by President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Quad Summit in Washington DC in September 2021, both leaders “reaffirmed that the United States and India stand together in a shared fight against global terrorism” and “called for the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to be brought to justice.”

Pakistan’s support of terrorism continues unabated, while the US continues to say that Pakistan is an important partner in the war against terror. Earlier this year, a three-member bench of Pakistan’s supreme court headed by Justice Mushir Alam, acquitted Ahmed Omer Saeed Sheikh, who is accused of beheading US journalist Daniel Pearl. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has referred to Osama bin Laden as a martyr, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi refused to condemn bin Laden. Pakistan continues to remain under increased monitoring (grey list) by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), but has so far remained off the black list.

As Dr. Christine Fair, Professor in the Security Studies Program within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, commented, “If one were to apply the criteria with reference only to the facts, of course, it would have to be blacklisted. The US and the UK consistently argue that it should remain on the grey list as a black listing would preclude Pakistan from access to IMF funding, which the UK and the US believe is critical to Pakistan.”

“Ordinary citizens worldwide understand that Pakistan has been duplicitous, that it has been the driving force behind the invasion of Afghanistan, and that it is the state sponsor responsible for the existence of these terror groups,” commented Alexander. “But the current US approach seems to be based on a form of policy Stockholm Syndrome, which can be traced back to the US relationship with China, and the Kissinger doctrine which holds that strategic partnership with China or Pakistan is so important that any conflicts or disagreements must be tolerated for the larger cause of US and Chinese or Pakistani comity.”

“This doctrine is totally indefensible today,” added Alexander, “yet the US and most of its closest allies have still not moved beyond it. The so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ that started under the Obama administration has so far done very little to change the reality of this outdated doctrine.”

The consequences of letting Pakistan off the hook for its actions has led to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in recent times. “They invaded an entire country that was the focus of a NATO mission, but no government is proposing any form of accountability,” continued Alexander. “Everyone has to ask themselves what their role is in this. India should be advocating for this, and working with the international community to hold Pakistan accountable. If there are no consequences, the entire international system is made vulnerable.”

Following a classified briefing on Afghanistan last month, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) issued a statement saying that the briefing “confirmed yet again what we’ve known all along: the United States is now less safe than before President Biden’s disastrous decision to unconditionally and entirely withdraw from Afghanistan.” US media reported that the Biden administration informed US lawmakers that they were close to an agreement with Pakistan about using their airspace to conduct military and surveillance operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied the reports.

Last week Pakistan hosted representatives from the US, Russia, and China to discuss the unfolding humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan that is forcing Afghans to migrate to neighboring countries. In a joint statement, they appealed for international humanitarian aid for Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to cut ties with terrorist groups.

India also held a regional security dialogue on Afghanistan last week attended by Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan and China declined to attend.

It is high time for the world to move beyond rhetoric and take action against state sponsors of terrorism like Pakistan to ensure a rules-based international order. Justice needs to be delivered, and delivered in a timely fashion. Otherwise, the victims of Pakistan’s actions, like the families of those who perished in the Mumbai attacks, are simply denied justice.

Au Revoir, Editor

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. ~ Robert Frost

The above lines were oft-quoted by Tejinder Singh, Founder and Editor of India America Today. He was born and brought up in the industrial town of Kharagpur, in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. Tejinder initially studied civil engineering at the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur, but journalism was his passion. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Osmania University, India.

A veteran multimedia political and business journalist, Tejinder lived in India, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, and Belgium, and was fluent in six languages.

Tejinder worked as EU Correspondent for APM Health Europe, and as a broadcast journalist with the BBC, South African Broadcasting Corp., and Flemish-English and Indian networks. He was the editor-in-chief for New Europe, The European Weekly, based in the EU capital of Brussels, Belgium from 1997 – 2009.

Tejinder moved to the United States in 2009, and founded India America Today in 2012. He was a White House, Pentagon and State Department Correspondent.

Tejinder was the National Press Club’s Chair of the Newsmakers Committee in 2010. He also served on the Broadcast Committee and the International Correspondents Committee. He served as vice president for print of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) from 2011-2012.

To those of us he worked with he was Tito, Teji, Tej. I have worked side by side with him at India America Today since 2014. He had a sharp wit, a disarming smile, and could file news stories with amazing speed, sometimes typing articles on his phone to get the news out quickly. Tejinder was unfailingly kind, caring, encouraging, and soft spoken, but wielded a pungent pen.

He is survived by his younger brother, Vikramjit Singh, in India.

Thank you all for the many messages, emails, and phone calls sharing memories of him and expressing condolences. We are including some of the messages here:

“I had many opportunities to interact with him and benefit from his keen intellect and encyclopedic knowledge during my tenure as India’s Ambassador to the US. I found him deeply involved in issues that concerned the welfare and interests of the Indian community in USA. An out of the box thinker, I was often benefitted by the ideas and suggestions he proffered on the issues we dealt with. His passing away leaves a void in the Indian-American media space and in our own hearts.” Indian Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

“Tejinder reported the news with sagacity and skill. He pursued his questions doggedly, and he charmed with his pearly white smile. He made me think. He made me work. And he made me feel privileged to have the opportunity to speak for the U.S. government on the issues that meant so much to his readers. But the thing I will remember most about him was his manner. His dignity. He was a gentleman, through and through. And gentlemen are as rare today as they are important. I will miss that smile. I will miss that gentleman.” John Kirby, Pentagon Press Secretary.

“Tejinder was a bright light in the State Department briefing room, always there with a smile and an interesting question about whatever the news of the day was. He was incredibly kind and treated everyone else with respect, qualities that are far too rare in Washington. He was so welcoming to my parents when they came to visit, and they kept up with him on social media afterwards. I cannot believe that such a happy soul is no longer with us.” Marie Harf, former State Department Deputy Spokesperson.

“Tejinder covered the State Department for 11 years, participating in many State Department briefings both in person and also calling in every telephonic briefing. We already miss seeing his name in the question queue here today. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues as we grieve his loss. And I speak for my colleagues here when I say that he was such a pleasure to work with for all of us, and his presence will be sorely missed.” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter.

“I wanted to send my condolences for the loss of our colleague Tejinder Singh – he was such a vibrant, warm, and kind person and a true pleasure to work with. We were all saddened to hear the news of his death, which is a huge loss for the State Department press corps. I always enjoyed working with Tejinder; he always sent the most interesting questions, kept us honest in explaining our policies to the public, and of course served an integral role in keeping the Indian-American community informed. I miss him and I’m sending you my warmest thoughts as you and your colleagues grieve his loss.” Grace Chung, Press Officer, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA), U.S. Department of State.

Foreign Secretary Shringla Condoles the Passing of Tejinder Singh

In a message sent to Poonam Sharma, the Managing Editor of India America Today, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla condoled the passing of our Founder and Editor, Tejinder Singh:

I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the untimely demise of my good friend, Tejinder Singh, Editor of the India America Today and White House Correspondent.

A brilliant writer and a wonderful human being, Tejinder worked tirelessly to bring to the readers the nuances and dynamics of the strategic India-US partnership and further strengthen bonds at the people-to-people level.

I had many opportunities to interact with him and benefit from his keen intellect and encyclopedic knowledge during my tenure as India’s Ambassador to the US. I found him deeply involved in issues that concerned the welfare and interests of the Indian community in USA. An out of the box thinker, I was often benefitted by the ideas and suggestions he proffered on the issues we dealt with.

His passing away leaves a void in the Indian-American media space and in our own hearts. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.

With regards,

हर्ष वर्धन श्रृंगला
Harsh Vardhan Shringla
विदेश सचिव
Foreign Secretary
विदेश मंत्रालय
Ministry of External Affairs
साउथ ब्लॉक, नई दिल्ली
South Block, New Delhi

Harsh Vardhan Shringla assumed charge as the 33rd Foreign Secretary of India on 29 January 2020. In the course of a diplomatic career spanning over 37 years, Foreign Secretary Shringla has held a variety of positions in New Delhi and abroad. He has served as India’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Bangladesh and the Kingdom of Thailand. He has also served in diplomatic assignments in France; USA (UN, New York); Vietnam; Israel and South Africa.