In­dia fu­ri­ous as Pak­istan frees al­leged Mumbai at­tacks mas­ter­mind

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties have freed the al­leged mas­ter­mind of the 2008 Mumbai at­tacks on bail, sources said Fri­day, a move that swiftly drew fu­ri­ous con­dem­na­tion from In­dia.

Zaki- ur- Rehman Lakhvi, ac­cused over the ter­ror siege that left 166 dead, was re­leased late on Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial at Adiyala Pri­son in Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad.

In­dia slammed the re­lease as an “in­sult” to the vic­tims of the three-day on­slaught on its fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal, blamed on the banned Pak­istani mil­i­tant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

LeT’s char­i­ta­ble wing Ja­maatud-Dawa (JuD) con­firmed Lakh- vi’s re­lease.

“Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi has been re­leased from jail. He is free now and in a se­cure place,” a se­nior JuD of­fi­cial told AFP.

“We can’t say ex­actly where is he at the mo­ment for se­cu­rity rea­sons.”

The re­lease comes af­ter nearly four months of wran­gling over Lakhvi’s detention, af­ter a judge granted him bail in De­cem­ber, spark­ing an an­gry re­sponse from New Delhi.

The gov­ern­ment slapped Lakhvi with a se­ries of detention or­ders but judges re­peat­edly can­celled them.

On Thurs­day the La­hore High Court or­dered his re­lease, con­di­tional on a two mil­lion ru­pee (US$20,000) bond.

In­dia has long seethed at Pak­istan’s fail­ure ei­ther to hand over or pros­e­cute those ac­cused of plan­ning and or­ga­niz­ing the vi­o­lence.

A spokesman for In­dia’s home min­istry, who asked not to be named, slammed Lakhvi’s re­lease.

“This is a very dis­ap­point­ing an­nounce­ment. An in­sult to the vic­tims of the 26/11 Mumbai attack. The global com­mu­nity should take se­ri­ous note of Pak­istan’s dou­ble-speak on ter­ror­ism,” the spokesman said.

Lakhvi and six other sus­pects have been charged in Pak­istan but their cases have made vir­tu­ally no progress in more than five years.

Delhi has long ac­cused Islamabad of pre­var­i­cat­ing over the tri­als, while Pak­istan has al­leged that In­dia failed to give it cru­cial ev­i­dence.

Lakhvi’s ini­tial bail or­der in De­cem­ber prompted an an­gry re­sponse from In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, who said it came as “a shock to all those who be­lieve in hu­man­ity.”

The hor­ror of the Mumbai car­nage played out on live tele­vi­sion around the world, as com­man­dos bat­tled the heav­ily armed gun­men, who ar­rived by sea on the evening of Nov. 26, 2008.

It took the au­thor­i­ties three days to re­gain full con­trol of the city and New Delhi has long said there is ev­i­dence that “of­fi­cial agen­cies” in Pak­istan were in­volved in plot­ting the attack.

Islamabad de­nies the charge but JuD, seen as a front for the mil­i­tant LeT, op­er­ates openly in the coun­try.

Pak­istan has long been ac­cused of play­ing a “dou­ble game” with mil­i­tants, sup­port­ing groups it thinks it can use for its own strate­gic ends, par­tic­u­larly in dis­puted Kash­mir.

Pak­istan and In­dia both con­trol part of Kash­mir but claim the whole of the ter­ri­tory and have fought two of their three wars over it since in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1947.

AP

In this Jan. 1 file photo, Zaki-ur-Rah­man Lakhvi, the main sus­pect of the Mumbai ter­ror at­tacks in 2008, raises his fist af­ter his court ap­pear­ance in Islamabad, Pak­istan.

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