A day after a Pakistani court declared the detention of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, illegal and ordered his release, authorities issued a fresh order on Saturday for his detention for another month.
The home department of Pakistan’s Punjab province issued the order under the Maintenance of Public Order law, MPO, which has been used four times to detain Lakhvi since an anti-terrorism court granted him bail in December, sources in Lahore told HT.
On Friday, Justice Noor-ul-Haq Qureshi of the Islamabad High Court had declared Lakhvi’s detention illegal and ordered his immediate release.
Till the Punjab government issued the fresh order for Lakhvi’s detention on Saturday, it had appeared that he would walk out of Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, where he has been held since 2009.
Friday’s judgement by the Islamabad High Court had triggered a diplomatic spat between India and Pakistan.
The external affairs ministry called in Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit to convey its “outrage”. India said the court’s order went “against Pakistan’s professed commitment to combat terrorism” and that the release of Lakhvi, designated an international terrorist by the UN, would “pose a threat that can’t be ignored”.
In response, Pakistan’s foreign office summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh and dismissed New Delhi’s stance as “unnecessary hype”. The Pakistani side contended that Lakhvi’s trial would continue even if he was freed from jail.
After the anti-terrorism court hearing the Mumbai attacks case granted bail to Lakhvi in December, Pakistan’s federal government has used the MPO law three times to extend his detention.
The order under MPO against Lakhvi on Saturday was the first one issued by the government of Punjab province.
Lakhvi has challenged his detention under MPO in the Islamabad High Court, and Justice Noor-ul-Haq Qureshi twice issued orders for his release.
The federal government has also challenged the high court’s order in the Supreme Court, which is still hearing the matter.
Authorities had filed a case against Lakhvi over the kidnapping of an Afghan national six years but he has been granted bail in this case too.