Pakistan on Saturday detained Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind, for 30 more days under a public security order before he could be released from jail following a court directive to set him free, which evoked a strong protest from India.
“The Punjab government today issued the order of Lakhvi’s detention under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) for a period of 30 days. He will remain detained at the Adiala Jail where he is currently under custody in the Mumbai attack case,” a Home Department official of the Punjab government told PTI.
An “outraged” India had on Friday summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi to lodge a strong protest against the Islamabad High Court order to release the LeT operations commander Lakhvi and said freeing him will pose a threat which “cannot be ignored“.
The Home Department official said the detention order of 55—year—old Lakhvi had been issued on the request of the Interior Ministry.
Lakhvi’s lawyer, Raja Rizwan Abbasi, claimed the Punjab government had issued the order in violation of Pakistan’s Constitution.
“The Punjab government has in fact committed a contempt of court by detaining Mr Lakhvi under MPO which was twice suspended by the IHC,” he said, adding that he would challenge this “illegal” order in the high court on Monday.
“The Punjab government has entered in the MPO controversy to try to make the matter more complex legally,” Abbasi said and expressed hope that the High Court would set aside the Punjab government’s order on the first hearing.
The Adiala Jail authorities in Rawalpindi yesterday refused to release Lakhvi merely on the court’s order they received through fax from his counsel and asked him to produce the certified copy of the order for his release.
“Today we were to produce a certified copy of the court’s order to the jail administration for my client’s release before the Punjab government intervened and detained him under an illegal order,” Abbasi said.
The IHC judge, Noorul Haq Qureshi, yesterday suspended the government’s detention order of Lakhvi for the second time and ordered his immediate release.
“Since the government could not produce any solid evidence against the detention of Lakhvi under Maintenance of Public Order there has been no legal ground to detain him any more under that law. Lakhvi should be released immediately if he is not required in any other criminal case,” a senior lawyer associated with the case quoted the court’s order as saying.