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Lakhvi should have been hanged for 26/11, not given bail

Gaurav C Sawant
Gaurav C SawantApr 09, 2015 | 15:46

Lakhvi should have been hanged for 26/11, not given bail

Barely 48 hours after terrorists went from classroom to classroom kicking open doors and spraying bullets with clinical precision in Peshawar’s Army Public School, killing 132 schoolchildren, a court in Pakistan’s Islamabad ordered Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakvi be released on bail.

The attack in Peshawar was uncannily similar to the attack on the iconic Taj Hotel in Mumbai where Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi stands accused of directing terrorists to go from room to room killing hotel guests.

In India, following due legal process 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab, has been hanged. In Pakistan, the trial has not even started in the right earnest. A government chief prosecutor was killed and a judge stepped down after Lashka-e-Taiba terrorists threatened him.

The bar is set so low, that even if Lakhvi is now kept in jail as an undertrial, it will be hailed as an achievement and Pakistan’s contribution to check India centric terror. In any civilised country Hafiz Saeed, Lakhvi and other LeT terrorists would have been convicted and locked up or hanged by now. But not in Pakistan. One roams free threatening India and the other is released on bail.

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There is hurt, anguish, anger and outrage across Pakistan after the Peshawar school attack. The nation stands united in demanding action against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Maulana Fazlullah or Mullah Radio. Pakistan army chief general Raheel Sharif rushed to Afghanistan seeking joint operations to wipe out the scourge of terrorism in North-West Frontier Province and preventing the terrorists, once trained, armed and funded by the Pakistan army from escaping into Afghanistan.

The same Pakistan – from its political leadership, military leadership and strategic community – is surprisingly silent on action against India centric terror. A day after prime minister Narendra Modi reached out to Pakistan, offered all possible help and assured Pakistani leadership India stands with them, a day after schools across the country observed two minute silence in solidarity with the victims of Peshawar, the anti-terror court granted bail to Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi.

There is anger and outrage across India at Pakistan’s double standards. Lakhvi is a top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander. He is on NIA’s list of most wanted terrorists. Those who have tracked him say young terrorists undergoing training in LeT camps in Muridke and elsewhere refer to him as "Chacha". He claims to have fought in Chechnya and Iraq.

Ujjwal Nikam, the senior public prosecutor told me, Pakistan did not build a strong case against Lakhvi. "I told the Pakistani prosecutors their case was weak. They had not applied section 120 to book him for criminal conspiracy. They kept assuring me, they would but they did not." India says there is enough evidence for Pakistan to build on.

Evidence against Lakhvi is not restricted to confessions of Ajmal Amir Kasab and Abu Jundal – both made before judicial magistrates but also inputs that came in from other agencies and corroborated independently.

In fact Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs, insists Pakistan needs to build on the information and evidence provided by India. "The terrorists came from Pakistan, the plot was hatched in Pakistan, the funding happened in Pakistan and it is for the Pakistani authorities to investigate the case," he said.

Lakhvi is considered very close to the Pakistani deep state. In fact on February 12, 2009 Rehman Malik then advisor to Pakistan PM on internal security confirmed investigations against Lakhvi by Federal Investigation Agency showed he was the mastermind of the terror attack. In November 2009 Lakhvi was formally charged with planning and helping and executing the Mumbai terror attacks. He monitored the attack from a control room in Karachi and gave minute by minute instructions to the Pakistani terrorists.

As Pakistan buries its dead in Peshawar it should remember truth can never be buried.

Last updated: April 09, 2015 | 15:46
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