Islamabad: In a move that is set to indignate India, Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Court on Thursday granted bail to Lashkar-e-Toiba commander and 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks plotter Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi citing lack of enough evidence. However, in an apparent damage control bid, the Pakistani government claimed that the bail was a "technical error" and on their part and officials said they would oppose it.
Pakistan's move of granting bail to 26/11 accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi stands out starkly, given the widespread condemnation and pledges being made to fight terrorism in the aftermath of the blood-curdling Taliban attack on Peshawar's Army Public School.
Lakhvi and six others had filed bail applications yesterday even as lawyers were observing strike to condemn the terrorist attack on Peshawar school.
All seven - Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum - are accused of planning, financing and helping to execute the carnage in Mumbai in 2008 and are facing trial at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
The anti-terrorism court granted bail to Lakhvi on the surety of two bonds worth Rs 500,000 each.
However, the Pakistani government claims that it wil oppose the bail in Lahore High Court.
According to a Dawn report, the FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) prosecutor "disagreed with the bail request, however Lakhvi's advocate Rizwan Abbasi stood before the court as the bail was approved by the court".
Also, Prosecution chief Chaudhry Azhar expressed surprise at the bail saying that the trial against Lakhvi was yet to conclude as 15 more witnesses were to testify against him, the PTI reported.
"After going through the court order in Lakhvi's bail case we will decide to challenge it," Azhar told PTI.
Lamenting the loss of lives of innocent school children in Peshawar school attack, Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif had also pledged to crack down on terrorists in a speedy manner and hence had lifted the moratorium on death penalty in terror case. In line with the ban, President Mamnoon Hussain today rejected mercy appeal by 17 convicted of terrorism and they would soon be executed.
However, the granting of bail to one of the key accused in 26/11 attack cases negates Pakistan's power-packed vows to eliminate terrorism from its soil that keeps on popping its ugly head to strike its own people.
After Peshawar attack left the country and the world shocked and grieving, PM Sharif had also asserted that Pakistan was determined to exterminate the scourge of homegrown terrorism completely and that it would not distinguish between "good Taliban and bad Taliban" while doing that.
However, India remains sceptical about Pakistan's intentions and bail to Lakhvi only will only add to the distrust between the two nations.
Pakistan's dilly-dallying the trial of seven Pakistani suspects accused of planning and executing 26/11 carnage in Mumbai remains to be one of the most bitter irritants between the two neighbours.
Lakhvi was arrested by Pakistan after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and has since been serving jail in Rawalpindi.
While Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed masterminded the Mumbai terror attack, it was Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who was the handler of all ten gunmen who came ashore Mumbai that fateful night and was also in touch with them throughout the massacre.