In a disconcerting turn of events, the Islamabad High Court has made it clear that the detention of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is illegal and ordered his release. Lakhvi has been incarcerated in a Pakistani jail since 2009. That’s right, Lakhvi, mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks is free and that too with the blessings of the Pakistani courts. This is very disturbing given the fact that Indian security agencies have provided concrete evidence to the Pakistani security establishment about Lakhvi’s involvement in the attacks.
Lakhvi’s release has understandably miffed India. According to Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs, “The overwhelming evidence against Lakhvi has not been presented properly before court by Pakistani agencies”. He went on to add “there are no good terrorists or bad terrorists”. India also summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to convey its displeasure at the turn of events. What is interesting is that both times Lakhvi has been set free the judge in question has been High Court justice Noor-ul-Haq Qureshi. In the previous instance where Qureshi had granted bail to Lakhvi the Pakistani Supreme Court had overturned Qureshi’s order.
Lakhvi’s release is the latest in a long line of wilful ignorance, botched internal security strategies, perfidies and double speak by Pakistan on the issue of home-grown terror. These foolish machinations on Pakistan’s part ultimately culminated in the gruesome attack in Peshawar where scores of school going children were ruthlessly massacred in broad daylight. The events in Peshawar threw cold water on Pakistan’s claim that there is good Taliban and there is bad Taliban. Lakhvi’s release is significant because it comes hot on the heels of militant organisation Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) merging with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Even more worrisome is the fact that the Pakistani foreign ministry has blindly ignored the demand of US Congressman Ed Royce who in a statement asked Pakistan to hand over Lakhvi either to India or present him before the international court of justice. In a few days Lakhvi will walk out of Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail while the next of kin of the victims of the Mumbai attacks watch his release on television in sheer horror. Pakistan has consistently shown that it will play with fire by going soft on terror and despite getting repeatedly burnt refuse to learn. Will it ever learn? Lakhvi’s release indicates that the answer to that question is a sad no.