Islamabad: The US and the UK have asked Pakistan to hand over Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, to India to improve bilateral ties, or to them for his “independent trial”.
During Lakhvi's bail hearing in the Islamabad High Court on Monday, the prosecution informed that “two countries had demanded handing over of Lakhvi to India”. The prosecution lawyer did not name the countries in the court.
However, an Interior Ministry source told PTI that the US and the UK had asked the Nawaz Sharif government to hand over 54-year-old Lakhvi either to India in order to “improve ties” with the neighbouring country, or to them for his “independent trial” as several nationals of different countries were killed in the Mumbai attacks.
The prosecution also requested the high court division bench headed by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui to expedite the case. “Shift the case to the military court if the government is in such a hurry,” remarked Siddiqui.
The judge said handing over Lakhvi to any country was a “diplomatic issue” concerning the government and the court had nothing to do with it.
Prosecution chief Chaudhry Azhar told PTI that Lakhvi's lawyer did not attend today's hearing. “The court, during the last hearing, had issued summons to Lakhvi, but his counsel did not appear… The court adjourned the hearing,” he said. The court office will fix the next date for hearing.
During the last hearing, the prosecution told the high court that the trial court had ignored the testimony in the 26/11 case while granting bail to Lakhvi on December 18 last year. Lakhvi will remain in jail under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) till February 18, after the government extended his detention for another month.
Lakhvi and six others — Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum — have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 that left 166 people dead.
Lakhvi was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the others on November 25, 2009.