ISLAMABAD (AFP) – A Pakistani court on Monday suspended a detention order on the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, government lawyers said, a move likely to further inflame tensions with India.
The suspension is the latest round in a tussle over whether to grant bail to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who is accused over the terror siege in India’s commercial capital that left 166 people dead.
The Mumbai carnage was blamed on the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and India has long seethed over Islamabad’s failure to either hand over or prosecute those accused of planning and organising the violence.
A court granted Lakhvi bail on December 18, drawing a furious response from India, but government lawyers say they are planning an appeal.
After the bail ruling, the authorities ordered Rehman’s detention under public order legislation, which Lakhvi’s lawyers challenged.
The Islamabad High Court on Monday suspended the detention order, government lawyer Jehangir Jadoon told AFP.
“The Islamabad High Court took Lakhvi into its custody and granted him conditional bail against surety bonds of one million rupees,” Jadoon said. The suspension can be withdrawn if the government challenges it, Jadoon added.
Lakhvi remains in custody in a high-security jail, as he has throughout the 10 days of wrangling, and the paperwork involved in actually getting him released means he is unlikely to walk out of prison soon.
But Monday’s development is likely to further anger New Delhi, which has long accused Pakistani intelligence agencies of having a hand in Mumbai.
Islamabad denies the charge but LeT’s charitable arm Jamaat-ud-Dawa, seen as a front for the militant group, operates openly in the country.
Seven Pakistani suspects have been charged with planning and financing the attacks but the failure to advance their trials has been a major obstacle to better ties between Pakistan and India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the bail order was “a shock to all those who believe in humanity world over”.