Pakistan has released on bail the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, multiple sources are reporting, two days after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack that killed 141 people, mostly children, in Peshawar.
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the former head of the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, has been granted a release following his payment of 1 million rupees ($US9,950) as a surety bond.
The Mumbai terror attack, which Lakhvi orchestrated, killed 165 people and an additional nine gunmen.
The BBC reports that it remains “unclear on what grounds the court ordered Mr Lakhvi’s bail.”
The timing of Lakhvi’s release is particularly dubious. The Pakistani Taliban attack on Monday has led to a public outcry over the country’s murky relationship with terrorism. Pakistan, or at least the country’s secretive security and intelligence apparatus, has cultivated the Afghan Taliban in order to maintain influence in the country’s restive western neighbour. At the same time, elements of the government have also aided Islamists like Lakhvi for attacks against Indian targets.
On Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to end militancy in the country and said it would reinstate the death penalty in cases tied to terrorism.
Lakhvi has been designated by the UN as a terrorist, and the decision to release him has prompted outrage from neighbouring India.
“We cannot accept that LeT’s chief operation commander Zakiur Lakhvi, one of the key conspirators of the Mumbai terror attacks in which so many innocent people were slaughtered, a person designated as an international terrorist by the UNSC, is being released on bail,” Syed Akbaruddin, India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson, has said.
Lakhvi had filed his bail applications yesterday, just a day after the Peshawar attacks.
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