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For all the sound bites his deposition will undoubtedly provide, David Headley’s testimony is unlikely to have much practical effect. He has said nothing so far—including on the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and Hafiz Saeed in the Mumbai attacks—that was not already known to New Delhi and soundly denied by the Pakistani establishment. Repeating the facts will not change Pakistan’s stance.
Indeed, if there is one thing this episode is likely to show, it is the intractability of the cross-border terror problem. And the disagreements that have already cropped up regarding the Pathankot investigation—with Islamabad denying Indian evidence about Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar’s involvement—only buttress the point. Which leads to the question: what exactly does New Delhi hope to achieve by the dog-and-pony show that is the comprehensive bilateral dialogue when basic security seems negotiable?