A court in Pakistan has granted bail to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who is accused of planning the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. The decision was condemned by Indian officials.
A court in Pakistan's capital Islamabad granted bail to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, accused of masterminding terrorist attacks in November 2008 in Mumbai where gunmen attacked several tourist landmarks, killing 166 people in a siege that lasted 60 hours.
"We had moved a bail application with the Islamabad anti-terror court on December 10. Today, the judge granted bail to my client after hearing arguments from both sides," Lakhvi's lawyer Rizwan Abbasi told news agency AFP.
Prosecutor Mohammad Chaudhry Azhar confirmed the court's decision, but said that prosecutors would decide to challenge the decision only after they had read the detailed order, Reuters news agency quoted Azhar as saying.
Indian officials condemned the attack and were planning to respond against Lakhvi's bail, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. PTI also retweeted a reaction by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Relations between the two neighbors could sour further after the latest decision, especially since New Delhi has repeatedly asked Pakistan to surrender extremists of the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), whose members planned the 2008 attack. Lakhvi is a member of the outfit, which is also accused of fueling militancy in Kashmir.
LeT also operates a charitable arm in Pakistan, called the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the US has offered a $10 million bounty for the capture of its founder, Hafiz Saeed, also accused of planning the Mumbai attacks.
The court's ruling came in the wake of the biggest ever militant attack at a school in Pakistan, which left 141 dead, mostly children. Following the attack, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a national plan promising to weed extremism out of his country.
mg/rc (AFP, Reuters, PTI)