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Mumbai Attacks Suspect Detention Extended

by AFP
Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Government has appealed Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi’s release by the Islamabad High Court and urged India to exercise patience.

A court in Rawalpindi on Thursday sent the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to jail for two weeks in the latest round of a tussle over his detention that has worsened ties with India.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, accused over the terror siege in India’s commercial capital, was granted bail on Dec. 18 by an anti-terror court but authorities later detained him under a public order law, which was subsequently suspended by the Islamabad High Court on Monday.

On Tuesday, police told a lower court that Lakhvi was accused in the kidnapping of a man six-and-half-years ago, with the judge granting police his custody for two days to investigate. The same court on Thursday sent him for a further two weeks to Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail, said defense lawyer Rizwan Abbasi.

The Mumbai attacks left 166 people dead and were blamed on banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). India has long seethed at Pakistan’s failure either to hand over or prosecute those accused of planning and organizing the violence. Lakhvi and six other suspects have been charged in Pakistan but their cases have made virtually no progress in more than five years.

The decision to grant Lakhvi bail on Dec. 18 drew an angry response from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, worsening tense ties with India. It was also seen as an embarrassment for Pakistan’s government, which has promised to crack down on all terror groups, including those that target India, in the aftermath of a Taliban school massacre that killed 150 people, mostly children.

The government also approached the Supreme Court on Thursday to reinstate Lakhvi’s detention under the public order law. “The federal government through the office of attorney general today challenged that cancellation of detention order in Supreme Court of Pakistan,” said government prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry.

Foreign office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam asked India to wait for the court’s decision on Lakhvi. “The case is sub-judice. It is unfortunate that an unnecessary hype was created on grant of bail to Lakhvi,” she told a weekly press briefing. “These are legal matters and media trials serve no purpose. We should wait for the outcome of the case,” she said. “Pakistan is very determined in its efforts to counter terrorism,” she added.

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