Lahore HC orders Lakhvi's release; India concerned

Islamabad/New Delhi: The Lahore High Court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of Mumbai terror attack's alleged mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, evoking strong reaction from the Indian government which said "terrorists not being effectively prosecuted" constitutes a real security threat to the country as well as the world.

The court dismissed the detention orders of Lakhvi, one of the key accused in the terror siege and ordered his immediate release, Dawn online reported.

The court was hearing a petition by Lakhvi challenging his fourth one-month detention ordered by the Punjab government last month.

The Punjab government had previously maintained the stance that Lakhvi was detained based on "sensitive information" provided by intelligence agencies.

India's external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India's concerns on the matter have been made known to Pakistan in the past.

"The fact is that known terrorists not being effectively prosecuted constitutes a real security threat for India and the world," he said.

The Pakistani court's move also "erodes the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to us with regard to cross border terrorism", Akbaruddin added.

Lakhvi is among the seven people charged with planning and helping carry out the 2008 Mumbai attack that left 166 people dead.

The six other men facing trial for their alleged involvement are Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Younas Anjum, Jamil Ahmed, Mazhar Iqbal and Abdul Majid.

Justice Anwarul Haq directed the government's counsel to submit records of the information to the court, which was also presented in the Islamabad High Court in the past, based on which the Islamabad High Court ordered Lakhvi's bail.

The Lahore High Court upheld the stance that if this sensitive information was reliable, the Islamabad High Court would not have accepted Lakhvi's bail.

Therefore, the Lahore High Court ordered Lakhvi's release based on the lack of reliability of the sensitive information provided and directed Lakhvi to pay Pakistani Rs.20 lakh (around $2,000) in surety bonds to the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi where he is lodged.

It was the second time within a month, when Pakistani courts dismissed the detention orders of Lakhvi.

After the Islamabad High Court last month declared the detention orders of Lakhvi as illegal and ordered his immediate release, India had summoned the Pakistani envoy in New Delhi to convey its outrage.

India had also taken strong exception to the bail granted to Lakhvi last year, days after the December 16 terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar.

At the time of the Mumbai atttack, Lakhvi was believed to be the operational head of the banned Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), accused by India of carrying out the attacks in the country's financial capital.

Reacting to Thursday's order of Lakhvi's release, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson G.V.L. Narsimha Rao said justice in the Mumbai attack was a test case for Pakistan to demonstrate its claim of not distinguishing between "good and bad terrorists".

"Lakhvi is being repeatedly released by courts in Pakistan because of lack of sincerity on the part of Pakistani government to make a watertight case against his involvement in the Mumbai terror attack," Rao told IANS.

He said that bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice was part of confidence-building measures between the two countries.

Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said the Indian government had provided evidence against Lakhvi and it was for Pakistan to ensure that justice was done in the Mumbai attack case.

"The Pakistan-India bilateral relationship is going to be impacted by terror attack case. It cannot improve till Pakistan ensures justice," Jha told IANS.

Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said the government should act firmly on the issue and give a tough message to Pakistan.

Another party leader Manish Tewari said Lakhvi was not repeatedly released by Pakistani courts when India had the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

He accused the Narendra Modi government of being "namby pamby towards terrorism" and said Kashmiri separatist Masrat Alam was also released after the BJP-led alliance came to power at the centre.

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