Islamabad: Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, who was granted bail Thursday, was Friday detained under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail even as the court’s bail order came under scathing criticism from the Pakistani media.
The government has also decided to appeal in superior courts against Lakhvi’s bail, Dawn reported quoting a senior government source.
An anti-terrorism court in Islamabad Thursday had granted bail to Lakhvi, one of the seven people charged with planning and helping to carry out the Nov 26-29, 2008, Mumbai terror attack which killed 166 people.
The acceptance of his bail plea had come as Pakistan was mourning the deaths of 148 people, including 132 school children, in Tuesday’s Taliban massacre in a Peshawar school and New Delhi had made a visible effort to show solidarity with Islamabad.
Lakhvi is among seven people charged with planning and helping to carry out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
The six other men facing trial in Adiala Jail for their alleged involvement in the Mumbai attack are Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Younas Anjum, Jamil Ahmed, Mazhar Iqbal and Abdul Majid.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani media sharply criticised the court order granting bail to Lakhvi. While one daily said that it was an insult to the Peshawar victims, another said that the ruling exposed the flaws in the Pakistani system.
The Islamabad court’s decision to free Lakhvi “has undercut the building narrative of not discriminating between terrorists as well as the nascent gestures of solidarity between India and Pakistan” following the Tuesday carnage in Peshawar, The Nation said in an editorial.
“When all of Pakistan is building a narrative against extremism, such steps are critical blows to the process, and therefore needs to be reversed.
“It is not only a terrible decision that harms the state’s objectives but is also an insult to the memory of the innocent 141 who lost their lives in Peshawar,” it added.
It also said that a a watershed moment in Pakistan’s tussle with extremism has now become “just another flash in the pan”.
“Where on one side the nation is baying to hang all convicted terrorists and run all shades of militants to the ground, on the other we are quietly granting bail to a person who allegedly planned a terrorist attack.
“How is this any different from the supposedly long-gone day when we used to differentiate between ‘terrorists’ and ‘strategic assets’?
“The decision has led to outrage in India; the inklings of trust and mutual suffering have been erased.
“Instead, we are still being painted as aggressors, where a moment ago we were viewed as the victims. The distrust returns, as do the hurdles towards peace.”
According to the News International, the court granting bail to Lakhvi only showed how difficult it would be to tackle the militant menace when “our institutional processes are so flawed”.
In an editorial, it pointed out that India expressed its sorrow and observed silence to mark the Peshawar tragedy.
“But we may have spurned our chance to make further progress. The decision by an Anti-Terrorism Court to grant bail to Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the prime suspect in the Mumbai attacks, might be pounced on by the Indians as evidence that the Peshawar attacks haven’t changed anything,” the daily said.
“His release, pending a government appeal, only shows how difficult it will be to tackle the militant menace when our institutional processes are so flawed,” it added.
The daily went on to say that “our political class is on the same page” on the battle against terror.
“It shouldn’t have taken the killings of more than 130 children to reach a consensus but in our mourning we have to show resolve – and that is what our political parties are now doing.”
The editorial noted that “political unity alone won’t get the job done”.
“We need the help of our neighbours.”
At the time of the 2008 Mumbai attack, Lakhvi was believed to be the operational head of Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) that has been accused by India of carrying out the attack.
Lakhvi, along with Zarar Shah, was allegedly the key planner of the attack that killed 166 people.