The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have vowed to avenge the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistan-born gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as India called for extra security for its Islamabad embassy.
Kasab, a 25-year-old from Faridkot, Punjab, was hanged in a jail in Pune, India on Wednesday after being convicted of “waging war on India” for his role in the three-day assault on India’s commercial capital in which 166 people were killed.
The TTP said it wanted Kasab’s body returned to Pakistan otherwise it would unleash reprisals, spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“We will take revenge of Kasab’s martyrdom,” TTP’s Ehsan pledged. “We strongly demand that his body be returned to Pakistan. If the body is not handed over (to the family) our reaction will be more severe.”
Indian officials said efforts had been made to contact Kasab’s family in Pakistan before his death and added that no request for his body had been received from his relatives or the government.
A former labourer and small-time criminal, Kasab admitted to being a member of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, but had no known links to the Pakistani Taliban.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that India had notified Pakistan shortly ahead of Kasab’s execution and had asked for higher security for its embassy in Islamabad due to the risk of demonstrations or possible reprisals.
“We did ask for precautionary measures in terms of protecting our diplomats in Pakistan. We sent a missive to that effect,” Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told foreign journalists.
An Indian foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that the demand had been made as “there was a need for extra security”.
“State governments in India have also been told to be on high alert and we have upgraded our security measures in the border regions,” a separate government official told AFP.
Kasab, who had his final appeal for clemency from the president turned down on November 5, was buried in grounds of the prison in Pune where he was executed.
His death prompted little official reaction from the Pakistan government, which issued only a short statement condemning terrorism.
Relations between the two rival nations appeared unaffected by the hanging of Kasab, though the Indian media said the Pakistani masterminds behind the Mumbai attacks were still at large and must be brought to justice.
“Kasab was only a pawn in the greater game of proxy terror that Pakistan has been playing,” The Hindustan Times said in an editorial. “The shadowy handlers who controlled the whole grisly operation from Pakistan are still around.”
Pakistan charged seven men in 2009 over the Mumbai attacks, but insists it needs to gather more evidence in India before proceeding further.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2012.