The US and the UK have asked Pakistan to hand over Mumbai attacks accused Zaki-Ur Rehman Lakhvi to India, possibly being the reason the Nawaz Sharif government has thwarted the Lashkar militant’s release after he was given bail in the 2008 terror case.
The two western powers additionally gave Pakistan the option to hand over Lakhvi to them for an international trial.
Although no official statement has been made either by White House or 10 Downing Street, the development may have significant repercussion for India-Pakistan dynamics since New Delhi has long been insisting Islamabad be forced to hand over terror suspects like Lakhvi and other Lashkar e-Taiba militants for carrying out attacks on Indian soil.
A government lawyer told the Islamabad high court, which is hearing appeals on Lakhvi’s bail, that "two countries had demanded handing over of Lakhvi to India". The prosecution lawyer, however, did not name the countries in the court.
But a Pakistani interior ministry source identified the two countries as the US and the UK, PTI reported. The two nations said Lakhvi should either be handed over to India in order to "improve ties" or to them for his "independent trial" as several nationals of different countries were killed in the 2008 attacks.
The prosecution also requested the division bench headed by justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui to expedite the case, prompting the judge to remark, "Shift the case to the military court if the government is in such a hurry."
The judge also said handing Lakhvi over to any country was a "diplomatic issue" concerning the government and the court had nothing to do with it.
Prosecution chief Chaudhry Azhar told PTI that Lakhvi's lawyer did not attend Monday’s hearing.
"The court in last hearing had issued summons for Lakhvi but his counsel did not appear. On this, the court adjourned the hearing," he said.
The court office will fix the next date for hearing.
In the last hearing, the prosecution told the HC the trial court had ignored testimony in the 26/11 case while granting bail to Lakhvi on December 18, 2014.
Lakhvi will remain in jail under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) till February 18 after the government extended his detention for another month.
Lakhvi and six others - Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum - have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attacks in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.
Lakhvi was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the other accused on November 25, 2009.