NEW DELHI: The resolve of the Pakistani establishment to fight terrorism of all hues lasted for only a day. On Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said there was no difference between “good” and “bad” terrorists. On Thursday, the main accused in the 26/11, Mumbai attack, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief operation commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, and six others, were granted bail.
A Pakistani court in Lahore granted Lakhvi’s bail application against a surety amount of $10,000. This is the first time that Lakhvi has been granted bail since he was arrested in 2009. Back home, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “We cannot accept that LeT’s chief operation commander, Zaki-ur Lakhvi, a person designated as an international terrorist by the UNSC, is being granted bail.”
The spokesperson pointed out that the bail comes just two days after the Peshawar school attack. “The grant of bail to Lakhvi will serve as a reassurance to terrorists who perpetrate heinous crimes,” he said.
According to reports from Pakistan, the prosecution was taken aback at the bail application — the last one was filed and rejected in 2009. The chief prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar expressed surprise that the bail had been given even when just 15 more witnesses were left to testify. He said that prosecution will file a challenge after reading the judgment.
Meanwhile, there are also reports that Lakhvi and company may not be allowed to walk free on Monday. Instead, he may be detained under the Maintenance of Public Order law, till the prosecution gets the bail cancelled.
Since 2009, eight judges have presided over the anti-terrorism court, which has seen innumerable adjournments. A chief prosecutor was also shot down. The sudden bail is especially jolting after India — both from the government and civil society — expressed solidarity with Pakistan over the horrific school attack. On social media, a hashtag ‘#IndiaWithPakistan” was on top of the trends list. Incidentally, a few Pakistanis on Thursday responded with the hashtag of “#PakWithIndiaNoLakhviBail”.
Minister Rajnath Singh said Indian authorities had given enough evidence to prosecute the terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks. Taking a veiled dig at the authorities, Singh said there may have been some laxity on the part of the concerned prosecuting authorities.
“Nawaz Sharif had vowed to neutralise all terrorists and in the wake of his statement I expect that Pakistan government will appeal in a higher court immediately so that the bail is cancelled,” Singh said.