US 'Concern' Over Lakhvi Does not Move Pakistan
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi
NEW DELHI: The US State Department’s “concerns” over the release of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, accused in the Mumbai blasts and affiliated with terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, has left Pakistan unmoved, with no visible effort to detain him again.
The concern was outlined by US Secretary of State John Kerry when he spoke with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this week, the State Department said.
A week earlier, the Department had put forth a similar position, when spokesperson Jeff Rathke told reporters, “we are gravely concerned about the release on bail of alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.” The US has "communicated that concern to senior Pakistani officials over the course of many months, and as recently as yesterday," he said, adding that Pakistan must act on bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. "Terrorist attacks are an assault on the collective safety and security of all countries," Rathke said.
Lakhvi was released from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi earlier this month, after the Lahore high court suspended his detention and ordered his immediate release. Last month, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared void detention orders of Lakhvi. India’s Home Ministry issued a statement saying, "It is the responsibility of the Pakistan government to take all legal measures to ensure that Lakhvi does not come out of jail."The overwhelming evidence against Lakhvi regarding his role in the criminal conspiracy leading to the Mumbai attack has not been properly presented in the Pakistani court by the Pakistani agencies. This should be ensured without delay," the Home Ministry stated.
In December last year, following international outrage over the decision of an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad to grant bail to Lakhvi, the Pakistani government detained Lakhvi under the Maintenance of Public Order act.
Lakhvi had been granted a bail on the condition of surety bonds amounting to Rs. 500,000. The Pakistani government had said that it would appeal the decision and demand a stay order, but following widespread condemnation, moved in to detain the accused.
Following the government’s detention order, the IHC suspended the detention order, but Pakistan’s Supreme Court on January 7 restored Lakhvi’s detention and asked the IHC to decide on the matter after hearing the federal government’s argument.
The decision of the court to grant bail sent shockwaves more so because it followed a brutal attack by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on an army-run school in Peshawar, wherein 141 people, including 134 children died. The incident led the world to issue messages to Pakistan asking for a stronger stand against terrorism, and the granting of bail was seen in contradiction to this position.
India led the condemnation, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, "bail to LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi has come as a shock and is a serious blow to all those who believe in humanity the world over, especially as it comes right after the terror attack in Peshawar." Speaking in Parliament, PM Modi linked the outrage to the events in Peshawar, saying “India is no less saddened than Pakistan by what happened in Peshawar; there are tears in the eyes of each and every Indian."
The Lok Sabha passed a resolution condemning the granting of bail to Lakhvi. According to TOI, “The resolution asked the government to take steps to put pressure on Pakistan to bring the matter related to 26/11 to satisfactory conclusion.”
Earlier, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had immediately reacted to the news as “very unfortunate” and adding that “it should not have happened.” The evidence provided by India to Pakistan was “more than enough” to incriminate Lakhvi, Singh said.
India’s External Affairs Ministry also issued a statement saying that the granting of bail would "serve as a reassurance to terrorists who perpetrate heinous crimes" and called on Pakistan to reverse the decision.
Indian political parties were united in their opposition to the granting of bail, with the Congress party’s Sanjay Jha saying, “We have given all evidence against the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack to Pakistani establishment and it is imperative that the prosecutor ensure justice to the victims” (as told to IANS).
Despite all the above, Lakhvi -- this week -- walked out free.