US warns Pakistan over release of Lakhvi

Published April 13, 2015
US State Department, spokesperson Jeff Rathke said, “We are gravely concerned about the release on bail of alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.”   — AP/file
US State Department, spokesperson Jeff Rathke said, “We are gravely concerned about the release on bail of alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.” — AP/file

WASHINGTON: The United States has warned Pakistan that there may be consequences for freeing Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a suspect in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

On Friday, the Lahore High Court set aside official orders to keep Lakhvi in prison and set him free.

But on Saturday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam blamed India for the release, saying that New Delhi’s “inordinate delay” in providing evidence of Lakhvi’s involvement in the attack “weakened the prosecution’s case”.

Read: FO blames India for Lakhvi’s release

At the State Department, spokesperson Jeff Rathke indicated that such explanations were not enough to satisfy the US administration.

“We are gravely concerned about the release on bail of alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi,” he told a news briefing in Washington.

“We have communicated that concern to senior Pakistani officials over the course of many months, and as recently as yesterday.”

Also read: Lakhvi, a free man for now

He said that terrorist attacks were an assault on the collective safety and security of all countries and Pakistan had pledged its cooperation in bringing the perpetrators, financiers, and sponsors of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice.

“We urge Pakistan to follow through on that commitment to ensure justice for the 166 innocent people, including six Americans, who lost their lives,” the US official said.

Mr Rathke said the US Embassy in Islamabad had already conveyed Washington’s concerns to Pakistani officials.

Also read: Lahore High Court orders Lakhvi's release

Asked if the United States could also take steps, such as cancelling the billion-dollar arms deal announced last week, to persuade Pakistan to re-arrest Lakhvi, the official said: “I’m not going to speculate about consequences or repercussions from the podium, but I think I’ve made clear that we’re gravely concerned about this development.”

When a journalist suggested that verbal warnings may not persuade Pakistan to go after Lakhvi, Mr Rathke said:

We’re going to look at this development and decide what consequences to draw from it. But I’m not going to get ahead of that process.”

The State Department officials, however, refused to say how soon the United States would take measures, if any, to bring Lakhvi back in the prison.

“I’m not going to put a timeline on it. But certainly, bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice is a key priority. And we stand by that. So we’ll continue working in that direction,” he said.

When another journalist asked him to identify the steps the US may take, the official said he was not going to “foreshadow any specific steps. We’ve got to look at this and decide what (to do.)”

Asked if there would be any step at all, Mr Rathke said:

“That’s what we’ve got to consider. I’m not trying to say that there necessarily will be a particular step.”

He agreed with a suggestion that the US administration was still trying to decide what steps to take.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

Opinion

Editorial

A new operation
Updated 25 Jun, 2024

A new operation

Clear deterrent action is needed against terrorist groups, but without upending the lives of people in the affected areas.
Power theft
25 Jun, 2024

Power theft

FEDERAL Energy Minister Awais Leghari’s statement during a TV interview that electricity theft amounts to Rs600bn ...
Fatal air
25 Jun, 2024

Fatal air

TOXIC air can cost us our children. It causes life-threatening illnesses, inflicts lifelong damage and leads to ...
Time for dialogue
Updated 24 Jun, 2024

Time for dialogue

If the PML-N and PTI remain mired in mutual acrimony, an ever-widening gap will continue to allow non-political forces to assert themselves.
Property taxes
24 Jun, 2024

Property taxes

ACCORDING to reports in the local media, along with the higher taxes imposed on real estate in the recent budget, ...
Fierce heat
24 Jun, 2024

Fierce heat

CLIMATE change is unfolding as predicted by experts: savage heat, melting glaciers, extreme rainfall, drought, ...