Islamabad, Dec 20: Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi cannot be allowed to simply walk away free, an editorial said and added that in the Mumbai trials, "Pakistan's overall record in the fight against militancy is also on trial".
Pakistan's leading daily Dawn said in an editorial that both the political and military leadership of the country has stated repeatedly that there is no longer such a thing as a good militant. "For that to be true, individuals like Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi cannot be allowed to simply walk away free men."
An anti-terrorism court in Islamabad Thursday had granted bail to Lakhvi, one of the seven people charged with planning and helping to carry out the Nov 26-29, 2008, Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people.
The acceptance of his bail plea had come as Pakistan was mourning the deaths of 148 people, including 132 school children, in Tuesday's Taliban massacre in a Peshawar school.
"While the court may have acted according to the rules and within the letter of the law, there is also a context here that cannot be overlooked," Dawn online said in an editorial.
"For five years the trial has remained in limbo, hearings repeatedly adjourned on one pretext or another - so why pick this week of all possible weeks to grant bail to Lakhvi?"
The decision to grant bail to Lakhvi, "suggests a tone deafness at this sensitive, possibly pivotal, moment in Pakistan's history", the editorial said.
"On the Mumbai-related trials Pakistan itself had acknowledged that the attacks were planned and masterminded by individuals based in the country.
"During the course of the Indian investigation, the state had provided a great deal of evidence to help piece together how the attacks were carried out," it added.
It went on to say that "the Pakistan government has rightly acted to keep him (Lakhvi) in custody for now, but that is only a fire-fighting measure".
"What is really needed is for the trials of Lakhvi and his co-accused to be taken up again with a seriousness of purpose and sound legal strategy.
"For in these Mumbai trials, Pakistan's overall record in the fight against militancy is also on trial."