Only a day after the gruesome attack on an army school in Peshawar, 26/11 accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was given bail by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi, citing a lack of prosecutable evidence. The timing of the event was rather poor considering that India had expressed full solidarity with Pakistan in the aftermath of the Peshawar massacre. The court order led New Delhi to react strongly against the bail. Both houses of Parliament passed a resolution condemning the bail granted to the 26/11 accused and asking the government to take steps to put pressure on Pakistan to bring the matter related to 26/11 to satisfactory conclusion.
In response to the decision by a Pakistan court, Ujjwal Nikam, the special public prosecutor in Mumbai terror attacks case, had said that India had presented evidence implicating Lakhvi to the Pakistan government and was assured by Islamabad that they will act upon it. Clearly, the prosecution in Pakistan failed to present its case. The reaction in the Pakistani media also pointed towards a sense of horror, following the decision to grant Lakhvi bail. An editorial in the ‘News International’ daily said that the decision ‘only shows how difficult it will be to tackle the militant menace when our institutional processes are so flawed.’ Following international pressure, however, the Pakistan government has taken him into custody.
The entire sequence of events throws cold water into Pakistan Prime Minister’s comment against establishing any distinction between good and bad Taliban. It is imperative to note that the armed forces and successive governments, in collusion with the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), have tolerated these extreme elements in the past and used them to pursue strategic aims in Kashmir, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. Although it receives military aid worth $2 billion from the United States to fight such terrorists, most geostrategic experts are rather unanimous in their belief that Pakistan has constantly indulged in these double games to pursue their foreign objectives.
Despite reports that the Pakistan army will continue its operations in the North West Frontier Province against the Taliban, many are still unsure whether this double game will subside. Such decisions will only further add to the cynicism that has arisen. Though the Pakistan state was founded on the basis of a secular ideology, subsequent leaders post-1971 have contributed to the rabid Islamisation that we are witnessing now. Disconcerting ambivalence has always characterised the Pakistani state and in light of the recent acquittal, the fight against terror continues to be a long and painful one.