NEW DELHI: Saying that it was common knowledge that Pakistan sponsors and finances terrorism, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Monday asked all counter-terror agencies in India to collect and preserve evidence of Islamabad’s role in terror acts so that it can be placed before international forums and platforms. “Everybody knows that Pakistan is supporting terrorism, Pakistan is financing terrorism, but it must be kept in mind that it is the evidence that is required,” Doval told a conference of chiefs of anti-terrorism squads and special task forces of various state police being organised by National Investigation Agency (NIA) here.
“You have access to it (facts regarding Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism) and you understand how that information is converted into evidence that can withstand scrutiny of law. So depend on the facts, preserve the facts, put them into a format … they may be used nationally and internationally (to nail Pakistan as a sponsor and financier of terror),” he told the ATS/STF heads.“One of the biggest pressures that has come on Pakistan today is because of the proceedings of the financial action task force (FATF). FATF has brought so much pressure on them that no other action could have,” the NSA said while calling upon the counter-terror bodies’ heads to collect sustainable information against Pakistan and preserve it for effective use nationally and internationally. Doval also sought their proactive role in perception management that helps expose Pakistan’s involvement in terror acts.
“So many Pakistanis are arrested…there is no harm in giving out their identities and giving out their plans to the media. Let the world know about it,” he said adding that not doing so would only benefit Pakistan by maintaining deniability. Stating that there was a tendency for counter-terror efforts to be conducted in three different silos — first, getting to know the source of terror; second, the action based on that knowledge; and third, taking the evidence to a court of law and establishing the role of those behind the terror act — the NSA impressed upon the need to merge the three silos and synergise the efforts of Central and state-level intelligence and investigative agencies in fighting terror. This, he said, would ensure that counter-terror efforts of different agencies are multiplied rather than simply adding up. The NSA called upon the ATS/STFs chiefs to suggest during the two-day conference what they can do to contribute to one another’s efforts, what they expect the government to do, what counter-terror policy changes need to be made and what executive action is needed in terms of improvement in training and resources.Particularly complimenting the NIA for its scientific approach in cases relating to separatists and money laundering in Jammu & Kashmir, Doval said the impact that NIA probes had on Kashmir terror was more than any other agency.“NIA took it (investigation) in the right spirit…that is, through legal permissible methods and proper process and procedures. They have followed the cases diligently and very intelligently, put pressure at the right places so that the persons being paid by the foreign agencies had to stop their activities to some extent,” he stated.Listing the challenges in terror investigations, he said the first was the covert role of a state sponsor, which offered a higher degree of deniability as well as resources and technology that made it difficult to figure out the perpetrators.
Also, it made collection of evidence more difficult. Third, there was a tendency by courts to treat terror cases as any other ordinary crime, notwithstanding the challenge involved in getting a witness to testify against dreaded terrorists.“The NIA withstood these challenges,” said Doval.