Execute the hit man, but grant the mafia dons immunity. Good idea?
That's what the US government seemed to suggest this week, in arguing that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) should be granted immunity in a civil case filed in a New York court in connection with the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.
“It cannot be that any organisation, state or non-state, which sponsors terrorism, has immunity,” the paper quoted Foreign Office spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin as saying. He was responding to a query on the ‘Statement of Interest’ filed by the U.S. State Department on immunity for the ISI and two former Director Generals of the agency in a civil case of wrongful death filed by U.S. family members of the victims of the terror attacks, the Hindu said.
“People who organised and perpetrated this horrible crime should be brought to justice, irrespective of the jurisdiction under which they may reside or be operating. Our position has been made known to the United States consistently,” the Hindu quoted Akbaruddin as saying.
Notably, Pakistan has rejected India's claims that members of the ISI were involved in planning and executing the Mumbai attacks, including claims from one of the alleged plotters that members of the spy agency were present in the Karachi control room from which the Lashkar-e-Toiba gunmen were issued instructions by telephone during the siege of Mumbai's Taj hotel.
The State Department told the New York court that, “in the view of the United States, the ISI is entitled to immunity, because it is part of a foreign state within the meaning of the FSIA (Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act). Furthermore, the Department of State has determined that former Director Generals Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Nadeem Taj are immune because the plaintiffs’ allegations relate to acts that these defendants allegedly took in their official capacities as directors of an entity that is undeniably a fundamental part of the Government of Pakistan.
So to whom do they answer, if they can indeed be proven guilty? And are "state actors" also immune to criminal prosecution?