Lakhvi's detention suspended; India lodges protest

Lakhvi's detention suspended; India lodges protest

A Pakistani court on Monday suspended a government bid to detain 2008 Mumbai attacks mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi under a public security order, three days after he was granted bail in the 26/11 case, triggering an angry response from India.

Abdul Basit, High Commissioner of Pakistan, was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh to lodge India's protest.

Singh conveyed to Basit strong concern at the lack of effective action by Pakistan’s prosecuting authorities after the anti-terrorism court ordered the release of Lakhvi, an internationally designated terrorist whose involvement in the Mumbai attacks is well known, said the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement.

Basit did not respond to media queries. However, a senior official from Pakistan's Interior Ministry told a news agency in Islamabad that the government there might detain Lakhvi in another case.

“Since Lakhvi's release from jail will draw a lot flak from the world, and especially India, the Pakistani government might detain Lakhvi in any other case, like it did in the case of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Malik Ishaq,” he said.

Ishaq was remanded in judicial custody in a murder and terrorism case before his release from jail after the government did not seek extension of his detention under the public security order.

Islamabad High Court judge Noorul Haq Qureshi had suspended Lakhvi’s detention after hearing the arguments of advocate Raja Rizwan Abbasi, Lakhvi's his lawyer. The government’s law officer did not turn up for the hearing.

The Pakistani court directed the government to file a reply on the next date of hearing in the case on January 15. An Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court judge had on December 18 granted bail to Lakhvi in the Mumbai attack case citing lack of evidence against him, but before he could be released from jail, the government detained him for three more months under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO). He was granted bail on surety bonds of Rs 5 lakh.

Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh informed the Pakistan high commissioner that India expected Islamabad to abide by the commitment conveyed to New Delhi, including at the highest level, that expeditious steps would be taken to bring all those responsible for the heinous acts of terrorism in Mumbai to justice.

“It is extremely disturbing that despite the assurances we have been receiving over the past six years and the recent tragedies in Pakistan, there seems to be no end in sight to Pakistan remaining a safe haven for well-known terror groups,” said the MEA.
DHNS & Agencies

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