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Terrorism

Mumbai execution may have long-term effects

India has hanged Pakistani national Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistani and Indian analysts say that Kasab's execution could have long-term implications for Indo-Pakistani ties.

Ajmal Kasab, one of the ten gunmen who carried out the coordinated terror attacks in various parts of India's financial capital Mumbai in 2008, which killed 166 people, was hanged secretly on Wednesday morning at a jail in the western Indian city of Pune after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his pleas for clemency earlier this month.

"Kasab was transferred to Yerwada jail two days ago. He was hanged at 7:30am local time," R. R. Patil, Maharashtra's state home minister, told the media in Mumbai. "His execution is a fitting tribute to the victims of Mumbai attacks."

According to Indian officials, Kasab has been buried inside the prison where he was hanged.

In May 2010, the 24-year-old Kasab was convicted of murder and several other crimes. In August, the Indian apex court turned down Kasab's appeal and said the terrorist must hang.

An Indian soldier takes cover as the Taj Mahal hotel burns during gun battle between Indian military and militants inside the hotel in Mumbai, India
(Photo: David Guttenfelder, File/AP/dapd)

Pakistan initially denied that Kasab was a citizen

In February 2011, the Mumbai High Court upheld the death sentence awarded to Kasab after he was found guilty on more than 80 charges, including murder and waging war on India.

The Indian government blames the Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks. Pakistan admits that the terror attacks were plotted inside Pakistan by banned militant organizations.

The Indian government said that it had followed diplomatic protocol by informing Pakistan in advance about the execution of Kasab.

Right-wing politics in both countries

In Pakistan, there have been mixed reactions to the execution of Kasab.

Tanvir Shahzad, DW's correspondent in the Pakistani city of Lahore, said that the Pakistani government had been silent about Kasab's hanging. The Pakistani foreign ministry issued a statement on Wednesday pledging its "resolve to cooperate with the international community" on terrorism issues but did not explicitly comment on Kasab.

On the contrary, Pakistani Islamists have been quite vocal on the issue and have reacted angrily to their "hero's" death.

Indians celebrate outside the high-security Yerwada Jail where Kasab was hanged on November 21, 2012
(Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Many Indians believe the 3-year trial was too long

The Pakistani Taliban said they were "shocked" by Kasab's hanging.

"There is no doubt that it's very shocking news and a big loss that a Muslim has been hanged on Indian soil," Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters.

Farid Paracha, one of the leaders of Pakistan's right-wing political party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, told DW that the Kasab's trial was "full of legal flaws."

In India, Hindu nationalist parties and groups hailed Kasab's execution.

On Wednesday, right-wing Indian parties held demonstrations in various cities, shouting slogans against Pakistan and hanging Kasab's effigy by neck during rallies.

Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist leader and chief minister of the Gujarat state, demanded that the Indian government now execute Afzal Guru - one of the convicts of a 2001 attack on Indian parliament.

Many Indian experts have raised concerns that Kasab's hanging might be used to fan anti-Islamic sentiments in India.

"Unfortunately, it all gets mixed up with Islamophobia," Nandita Haksar, an Indian lawyer and social activist, told DW. "This trend is not good for Indian democracy. Kasab's case was not just legal, it has political implications as well," she added.

Peace process

Pakistani and Indian analysts say that Kasab's execution should not harm the fragile peace process between the two hostile neighboring countries which have fought four wars since the partition of British India in 1947.

Pakistani human rights and peace activist Asma Jahangir said that it was unlikely that this event would derail the Indo-Pakistani peace process.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, left, shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
(Photo: AP Photo/Prakash Singh, Pool)

Ties between India and Pakistan have recently started improving

"Things can go bad if the Pakistani government decides to hang Sarbajit Singh, who has been in a Pakistani jail for many years on terrorism charges," Jahangir told DW. She, however, condemned Kasab's execution saying that death penalty was against human rights.

Sarbajit Singh's lawyer Owais Shaikh told DW it would be unwise to execute Singh because his case was different from Kasab's - Kasab had killed many civilians, whereas Singh had been a victim of a mistaken identity. Shaikh hoped that Kasab's hanging would not become an excuse for India and Pakistan to execute more people convicted on charges of terrorism.

"I don't expect the Pakistani government to make an issue out of it," Hasan Askari, a political analyst, told DW. "Islamabad has already accepted that Kasab had links with Pakistan. But religious groups and parties might protest against it and ties between India and Pakistan could be affected."

Savita Pandey, a professor of Social Sciences at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, told DW that Kasab's death would have adverse long-term affects on Indo-Pakistani relations.

"Kasab is only a symbol of Pakistan's state policy ... India has been a victim of cross-border terrorism since 1989. This is the first time that the Indian state has taken decisive action against terror perpetrated from across the border (Pakistan)." Pandey added that India needed to pursue a national policy against terrorism in congruence with international methods of counter-terrorism and counter-extremism.

DW.DE