A day after the Peshawar massacre of schoolchildren at the hands of the Taliban terrorists, the grant of bail to the 26/11 terror mastermind undermines any pretensions Pakistan might have about fighting jihadi killers. The release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi by an anti-terrorism court on Thursday also undermines the campaign launched by the Pakistani military against the Taliban, following the killing of over 120 children in an army-run school in Peshawar. All that show of resolve by the entire political leadership of Pakistan, and those bravura statements by Army Chief Raheel Sharif to wipe out terror from that country appeared hollow following the grant of freedom to the key mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai assault. India has reason to be angry with the Pak authorities. And several Indian dignitaries did well to register protest at the gross insensitivity of Pakistan in bailing out Lakhvi, who directed the terror operations minute-by-minute via a satellite link even as Lashkar-e-Taiba thugs held Mumbai to ransom. It is mind-boggling that the anti-terror court, which set Lakhvi free, did not realise the odd timing of its decision. Remarkably, the prosecutor in the case maintained after the LeT operative was let loose that he would appeal against the decision. His claim that he was surprised by the court decision cannot be taken at face value given that in such matters, courts and prosecution are often on the same page. The point is that if the authorities wanted they could have taken steps to ensure a faster trial for the 26/11 accused. India had furnished the requisite evidence to establish the involvement of Lakhvi and a few others in the Mumbai attack. Yet, Pakistan had dragged its feet, refusing to provide, to this day, voice samples of Lakhvi, for it to prove beyond any doubt that he was the mastermind in the 26/11 atrocity. No doubt the release of Lakhvi, most ironically by an anti-terrorism court, will further strengthen the impression that Pakistan is so deeply enmeshed in creating and harbouring all manner of terrorist groups that it cannot easily free itself from them. It has been rightly said that Pakistan is the most dangerous place in the world. It is the headquarters of Global Terror Inc. Only two days ago, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif bowed publicly not to rest until the `last terrorist is eliminated.’ That was after the macabre Peshawar killings. And within hours, his courts were arranging to let loose one of the chief purveyors of terrorism. Frankly, Sharif’s own credentials to fight terror are highly suspect, given that he has always been close to LeT chief Hafiz Saeed. Not only Sharif, almost all politicians in Pakistan are on most cordial terms with various terror chieftains. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan did not say a word edgeways against the Taliban while lamenting the Peshawar killings. His links with the Taliban are so close that he feels the need to keep them in good humour despite their barbaric crimes against innocent Pakistanis.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi gave vent to the anger of ordinary Indians when he frontally condemned the release of Lakhvi. This was not acceptable, he said. Speaking suo moto in the Lok Sabha on Friday, Modi reinforced the condemnation by the Foreign Office. The unanimous, all-party resolution passed by the Lok Sabha too underlined the depth of anger felt by Indians at the bail to the 26/11 mastermind. The claim that the courts in Pakistan are independent sounds hollow, given the all-pervasive grip of the army on that country’s power structures. The truth is that Pakistan has never acknowledged that it was behind the 26/11 attack. The capture of Ajmal Kasab effectively knocked out their pro forma denials. It is only a diseased mind which can blame India for terror attacks against itself. Just as there are enough madcaps in Pakistan who have come forward to suggest that India was behind the Peshawar killings. Such sickos ought to be in a mental asylum instead of their further vitiating the public affairs of Pakistan.