India summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Friday and lodged a strong protest over a Pakistan court’s order to release Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, mastermind of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
Hours later Pakistan summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad J.P. Singh to the Foreign Office, where it raised the 2007 Samjhauta train blast case, in which 68 people including many Pakistani nationals were killed. Islamabad contended that there was undue delay in the trial.
Lakhvi’s release comes shortly after Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s visit to Pakistan as part of his ‘SAARC Yatra,’ where he raised the issue with his counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry. “This goes against Pakistan’s professed commitment to combat terrorism, including its recently stated policy of not differentiating among terrorists,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in Colombo.
Mr. Akbaruddin said India had conveyed its outrage to the High Commissioner.
“If such a person, who has also been designated as an international terrorist by the United Nations, is released, it will pose a threat that cannot be ignored,” he said, indicating India might take additional action.
Mr. Basit was summoned by the officiating Foreign Secretary, Anil Wadhwa.
Earlier in the day, the Islamabad High Court, terming Lakhvi’s detention illegal for want of adequate evidence, ordered his immediate release. “He may have been granted bail ... but as you know the trial continues. We are all working to complete the trial. Let the judicial process take its course,” Mr. Basit told The Hindu.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said: “We [the Home Ministry] have already communicated to the MEA, and our stand is very clear ... The Pakistan government must ensure that all steps are taken to prevent his release …”
“The overwhelming evidence against Lakhvi has not been presented properly before court by Pakistani agencies…,” Mr. Rijiju said.
Lakhvi, a top commander of the banned LeT, has been in jail since 2009. Friday’s verdict was in response to his appeal against his detention for the third time.
(Additional reporting by Suhasini Haidar)