New Delhi on Friday registered a strong protest with Islamabad over the release of Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, saying the move “reinforced the perception that Pakistan has a dual policy” for dealing with terrorists who pose a threat to India.
Lakhvi walked out of the high security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi a day after the Lahore high court ordered his release as the government was unable to convince it of the evidence linking him to the attacks.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said India’s High Commissioner registered the country’s strong concerns with Pakistan’s foreign secretary over the release of a principal accused such as Lakhvi.
“He underlined that this has reinforced the perception that Pakistan has a dual policy on dealing with terrorists and those who have carried out attacks or are posing a threat to India are being dealt with differently and emphasized that this is a most negative development in so far as bilateral ties are concerned,”Akbaruddin said.
Lakhvi had been held in Adiala Jail since his arrest during an army raid on a LeT camp in Muzaffarabad a week after the attacks on India’s financial hub that killed 166 and injured hundreds.
The issue of Lakhvi's release also figured during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Paris, and French President Francois Hollande, who described the development as "deeply shocking."
Describing Lakhvi's release an "insult" to the victims of the Mumbai carnage, India said the global community should take serious note of Pakistan's double-speak on terrorism.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh described Lakhvi’s release as a disappointing development. He told reporters: “India wants talks with Pakistan but the present development is unfortunate and disappointing.”
Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson, however, sought to blame India for Lakhvi’s release.
“As I had mentioned earlier also, inordinate delay in extending cooperation by India complicated the case and weakened the prosecution. We respect the judicial process...,” the spokesperson said.
“The case of Mumbai attack suspects is subjudice. It would not be proper to cast aspersions on Pakistan’s commitment to countering terrorism at a time when Pakistan has entered a critical stage of defeating the menace of terrorism.”
Lakhvi and six others were charged with planning, financing and executing the Mumbai attacks. He was initially granted bail by the anti-terrorism court on December 18 last year, two days after a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar killed 132 children.