An outraged India told Pakistan on Thursday that release of Laskhar-e-Tayiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, one of the key conspirators of the Mumbai terror attacks, on bail was unacceptable to it and demanded immediate steps for reversal of the decision.
In a sharp reaction to the bail granted to 54-year-old United Nations-designated terrorist by a Rawalpindi court, New Delhi told Islamabad that there could be no selective approach to terrorism, emphasising that it should realise that no compromise can ever be made with terrorists.
"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," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
Noting that the release comes just two days after the dastardly terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar, where over a hundred children were purposefully and systematically butchered in the name of revenge, he said the grant of bail to Lakhvi will serve as a reassurance to terrorists who perpetrate heinous crimes.
"We call upon the government of Pakistan to immediately take steps to reverse this decision. There can be no selective approaches to terrorism. Given the scale of the tragedy that Pakistan itself has faced in recent days, it is incumbent on it to realise that no compromise can ever be made with terrorists," the official spokesperson said.
Sources have already indicated that government was working with its mission in Pakistan to prepare a strong response to the anti-terrorism court's verdict.
Lakhvi and six others had filed bail applications on Wednesday even as lawyers were observing a strike to condemn the terrorist attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that left 148 people, mostly children, dead.
The federal investigation agency prosecutor disagreed with the bail request, however, advocate Rizwan Abbasi, the lawyer representing Lakhvi stood before the court as the bail was approved, the Dawn reported.
The seven accused -- Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum -- are facing trial at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
Lakhvi, who was the operational head of the banned LeT, was one of the key planners of the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
His release from jail also comes a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to announce a ‘national plan’ to tackle terrorism within a week, saying ‘this entire region’ should be cleansed of terrorism.
Asked about Pakistan government's comment that there was not enough evidence against Lakhvi, one of India's most wanted terrorists, Akbaruddin said Pakistan has 99 per cent of the evidence in the Mumbai attacks case and it was incumbent on the government of that country to provide them to the court.
"Let us not forget that the entire conspiracy of the Mumbai attack was planned in Pakistan. Let us not forget that those who were involved in the conspiracy as well as those who carried out that attack were from Pakistan.
"Let us not forget that the training of all these were done in Pakistan. Let us not forget that financing of this entire thing was done in Pakistan. Therefore, it is incumbent on the government of Pakistan to provide the evidence. It is our view that 99 per cent of the evidence in the Mumbai terror attack case is in Pakistan. The 1 per cent that we have we have provided to them," he said.