Pakistan hit back at the U.S. State Department on Sunday for saying that Islamabad ought to do more to keep Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi responsible, rather than telling Washington to “reserve its concern” regarding India’s funding and execution of terrorist attacks.
The Foreign Office (FO) rejoinder on Twitter came in response to a statement released by the South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau of the US State Department following the conviction by a Lahore anti-terrorist court of Lakhvi, a key leader of the outlawed LeT, on a charge of terror financing.
The declaration claimed that while the US was “encouraged” by the recent prosecution of Lakhvi, his alleged crimes “go far beyond financing terrorism”
The State Department continued, “Pakistan should further hold him accountable for his involvement in terrorist attacks, including the Mumbai attacks,”
In response, Pakistan was “fully abiding by its own statutes and fulfilment of its international obligations” the FO said.
“The investigations, prosecutions and subsequent convictions, through due process, are a reflection of the effectiveness of Pakistan’s legal system which operates independent of any extraneous factors or influences,” he emphasised in a tweet.
The FO statement stressed that due to “the reluctance of [the] Indian side to send witnesses for cross-examination by [the] Pakistani court,” the judicial action in the “Mumbai Case” remained stalled.
‘The State Department is urged to maintain its concern regarding India’s active sponsorship, encouraging, planning, promotion, funding & execution of terrorist acts for which ample irrefutable proof has already been given,’ it added.
A day earlier, the FO had also dismissed a “malicious” statement released by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) about the prosecution of Lakhvi, saying it was “unfortunate” that India connected the proper legal procedure of Pakistan with the review of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The timing of the action against Lakhvi has been challenged by India. According to India Today, the MEA claimed that UN proscribed individuals and named terrorists “act as proxies for the establishment of Pakistan to fulfil the anti-India agenda of Islamabad,” adding that Pakistan was taking steps to convict Lakhvi at this time to project a “sense of compliance” before the upcoming FATF conference.
Lakhvi convicted of terror financing
Lakhvi was detained in Lahore during an intelligence-based operation on January 2. A CTD spokesperson had confirmed that he was operating a medical dispensary to raise and disburse funds for funding terrorism, adding that a case of financing terrorism had been registered.
On Friday, Lakhvi was sentenced to five years in jail by the Lahore ATC on three different charges, to be served simultaneously, and a fine of Rs300,000 each. The court also ordered law enforcement officials to apprehend Abu Anas Mohsin, the co-accused in the case, when ample proof against him was available.
The court has turned over the state’s custody of the dispensary.
Lakhvi is blamed by the US and India for the 2008 Mumbai attacks as the leader of the outlawed militant group LeT. In 2008, he was first convicted, but then released on parole.
India has been calling on Pakistan to put Lakhvi to justice for a long time, but Islamabad says Delhi has not given clear proof to prosecute the LeT king.
Lakhvi is LeT’s chief of operations and accuses him of being engaged in terrorist action in a variety of other regions and nations, including Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a UN Security Council sanctions committee.