ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani court on Thursday ordered the release of the main suspect in the 2008 Mumbai attacks for the second time in less than a month, a defense lawyer said.
A March 13 verdict also ordered the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, but he remained in detention as Pakistan faces mounting pressure to more actively confront Islamic militants.
He was still in custody, his defense lawyer Rizwan Abbasi said.
Lakhvi, one of seven suspects being tried in Pakistan in connection with the attacks that killed 166 people, has been in jail since his arrest in 2009.
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.
In response to the verdict, 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."
"This also erodes the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to us with regard to cross border terrorism?," he added.
Lakhvi is said to be the operations chief for Lashkar-e-Taiba, 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 to be tried for the Mumbai attacks, and the U.S. has offered a $10 million reward for information that can bring him to justice.
Pakistan detained Saeed for a few months but has never charged him, and today he freely roams the country, making appearances on TV and in public.
On Thursday, he led over 2,000 people in a rally to support the Saudi-led air campaign against Shiite rebels in Yemen and urged Pakistan to contribute to the coalition. Pakistan's parliament is debating whether to provide military aid.
Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.