– Indian leaders are strongly protesting a Pakistan court's Friday release of the suspected mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead.
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, 55, said to be the operations chief for Lashkar-e-Taiba—the terror group blamed for the deadly attacks—was released on a court order that he be free pending trial, his lawyer, Rizwan Abbasi,said.
As Lakhvi was freed from an Islamabad jail, an Indian envoy met the Pakistan foreign secretary in the city to protest his release, the Times of India reported.
The Indian envoy told Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry that Lakhvi's release has reinforced the perception that Pakistan has a dual policy on dealing with terrorists.
"Our high commissioner has registered our strong concerns with the foreign secretary of Pakistan at the release of a principal accused in the Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008," the external affairs ministry spokesperson said.
India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed India's frustration with the decision, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
"India wants talks with Pakistan but the present development is unfortunate and disappointing," Singh told reporters in Lucknow, the capital of India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
On Thursday, when the court ordered Lakhvi's release for a second time, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that the failure to effectively prosecute "known terrorists" is a "real security threat for India and the world.
U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said U.S. officials were "gravely concerned" about Lakhvi's release and considering what steps to take next to encourage Pakistan to bring the suspected terrorists to justice.
France also backed India’s concerns, with President Francois Hollande calling Lakhvi's release 'shocking'.
A Pakistani court first ordered Lakhvi's release on March 13, after Abbasi launched a legal battle claiming Lakhvi was being unlawfully held. But he remained in detention amid mounting pressure on Pakistan to more actively confront Islamic militants. He was ordered released for a second time on Thursday.
He still faces terrorism charges over the Mumbai attacks but the trial has not yet started.
"This is a triumph for law and justice," Abbasi said.
It's unclear if Lakhvi is banned from leaving Pakistan but Abbasi says he has to appear in court for his trial. His Pakistani passport was earlier deposited with the court authorities.
Lakhvi, who was first granted bail last December, is one of seven suspects on trial in Pakistan in connection with the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. He was arrested in 2009 and had been in detention since then -- until Friday.
India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to more actively pursue the case, and Pakistan faced renewed pressure following the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December, which left more than 140 people dead, mainly schoolchildren.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is an organization founded by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who now heads a charity known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or JuD, which denies any links to the militant group.
India wants Saeed, the JuD leader, also tried for the Mumbai attacks, and the United States has offered a $10 million reward for information that can bring him to justice.
Saeed had been in detention for a few months in connection with the Mumbai attacks but was never charged, and today he freely travels around Pakistan, making appearances on TV and in public.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.