Millennium Post

Pak detains Lakhvi for 3 months

Under international and media glare in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre and outrage in neighbouring India, the authorities stepped in swiftly and slapped the provisions of Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) to keep him in jail for at least three months.

The order of detention against 54-year-old LeT operations commander was on Friday handed over to Adiala Jail superintendent before Lakhvi's counsel could show his bail order.

"Lakhvi was to be freed from Adiala Jail Rawalpindi today morning but the government detained him there for three months under the 16 MPO," Prosecution chief Chaudhry Azhar told PTI.

Azhar said the Pakistan government has also informed India where in the Lok Sabha Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed "shock" over the bail and India rejected Pakistan's contention about insufficient evidence against Lakhvi.

Lakhvi, 54, one of the seven accused facing trail for planning and abetting the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, was granted bail by Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court on Friday due to lack of evidence against him.

The prosecution chief further said that the government had decided in principle to challenge the trial court's decision in the high court.

"We have prepared an appeal against the ATC order and file it on coming Monday," he said.

However, Lakhvi's counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi called his detention unfortunate and said it has been done to frustrate court orders.

"This is a deliberate attempt by the government to frustrate the law and order of the court," he said, adding the government cannot exercise at random.

The decision to release Lakhvi has drawn sharp criticism from India and surprised many for its timing, just days after Taliban massacred 148 people, mostly schoolchildren, in Peshawar.

"The Nawaz Sharif government also got upset over the ATC decision as it had to face criticism from India on its policy on war on terror at the time when it is making its strong resolve to crush terror networks from its soil," a source in interior ministry said.

He said the government had to take a prompt decision to detain Lakhvi before he was released from jail to avoid it from further embarrassment.

Lakhvi was granted bail a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif pledged to announce a "national plan" to tackle terrorism within a week, saying "this entire region" should be cleaned of terrorism.

"The matter was brought to the notice of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who immediately ordered detention of Lakhvi," the source said.

The ATC Islamabad decision had surprised the prosecution lawyers who said still 15 or so witnesses were to be produced against the seven accused of the Mumbai terror attacks including Lakhvi before it granted him bail.

Since the trial began in 2009, the prosecution had produced 46 witnesses.

Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum have been charged with planning, financing and executing the the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008 that left 166 people dead.
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