The U.S., France and Israel expressed deep concern over the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind behind the 2008 attack on two luxury hotels and a train station in India’s western city of Mumbai. Lakhvi, who belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba, was released on Friday from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi in northern Pakistan.
The release came after a local court suspended his detention on Friday and ordered for his immediate release. The decision had drawn flak from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who discussed it with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, the Hindustan Times, a local Indian newspaper reported. Lakhvi, an alleged senior member of the militant group, was released after he spent six years in detention.
The U.S. Department of State said in a daily briefing on Friday that it had discussed its concerns regarding Lakhvi’s release with Pakistan and had asked the country to stick to its promise of prosecuting those behind the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
“We are gravely concerned about the release on bail of alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. We have communicated that concern to senior Pakistani officials over the course of many months, and as recently as yesterday. Terrorist attacks are an assault on the collective safety and security of all countries,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement on Friday.
Rathke said he would not speculate about the repercussions of Lakhvi’s release, but added that "bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice is a key priority."
“Pakistan has pledged its cooperation in bringing the perpetrators, financiers, and sponsors of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice, and we urge Pakistan to follow through on that commitment to ensure justice for the 166 innocent people, including six Americans, who lost their lives,” Rathke said in the briefing.
Daniel Carmon, Israel’s ambassador to India, said that the release was a setback to international efforts against terrorism.
“Israel is surprised and disappointed by the release of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the Mumbai attack in which, as part of the horrific attack, also Israeli nationals and a Jewish centre -- the Nariman House -- were targeted,” Carmon said, according to Hindustan Times.
France also reportedly "expressed solidarity" with India on the issue. Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for India’s external affairs ministry, said, according to India Today, a local Indian news magazine: "One of the members of the French delegation said the unfortunate release of Lakhvi in Pakistan was not good news for either India or the world," adding: “The French side expressed solidarity with India on this.”