Lakhvi’s release not step in right direction: Pakistani daily

Islamabad : The release of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, from a Pakistani jail at this time is not a step in the right direction, Pakistani daily Dawn stated on Sunday.

Lakhvi’s release has thrown “a fresh hurdle in the possibility of dialogue between Pakistan and India resuming anytime soon”, the newspaper said in an editorial.

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The alleged terror mastermind’s release had led to a predictable exchange of accusations between the two countries, the daily noted.

India vehemently opposed Lakhvi’s release earlier in the week, while Pakistan countered that the “inordinate delay in extending cooperation by India complicated the case and weakened the prosecution”.

The editorial noted that “perhaps no one, not even within the Pakistani government, would suggest that the release of Lakhvi at this time is a step in the right direction”.

It, however, welcomed the fact that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “declined the opportunity to directly assail Pakistan” on the issue during his meeting with French President Francois Hollande earlier this week.

The daily hoped that India might not be favouring an immediate return to bellicosity with Pakistan, acknowledging rather “the long-understood logic of the need to engage Pakistan rather than hold it at arm’s length”.

However, Lakhvi’s release calls for greater introspection within Pakistan, the Dawn said, adding that the release suggested “a total breakdown of all aspects of the state doing their job: the political government, the security establishment and the superior judiciary”.

“If such a high-profile case is so poorly handled, what does that say about Pakistan’s overall ability to fight militancy?” the editorial said.

The daily, meanwhile, hailed Modi’s statements earlier this week, wherein he expressed his government’s willingness to engage in talks with Pakistan, mentioning the Shimla Accord and the Lahore Declaration as the frameworks for the dialogue.

The editorial considered Modi’s statements to be his most positive on the bilateral relationship since becoming the prime minister.