India on Thursday strongly protested against Pakistan's release on bail of Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, considered the mastermind behind the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Calling the bail granted by a Pakistan court unacceptable, India demanded immediate steps for reversal of the decision.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan's anti-terrorism court in Rawalpandi released Lakhvi on bail citing lack of evidence. However, in an apparent damage control effort, the Pakistan government said that the bail was a "technical error" and on their part and officials said they would oppose it.
In a sharp reaction to the bail granted to 54-year-old Lakhvi, declared a terrorist by the United Nations, New Delhi told Islamabad that there could be no selective approach to terrorism.
"We cannot accept that LeT's chief operation commander Zakiur Lakhvi, one of the key conspirators of the Mumbai terror attacks in which so many innocent people were slaughtered, a person designated as an international terrorist by the UNSC, is being released on bail," external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
Noting that the release comes just two days after the dastardly terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar, where 132 children were systematically butchered by the Pakistani Taliban, he said the grant of bail to Lakhvi will serve as a reassurance to terrorists who perpetrate heinous crimes.
The Indian government is reportedly working with its mission in Pakistan to prepare a strong response to the court's granting of bail.
Lakhvi and six others had filed bail applications on Wednesday even as lawyers were observing a strike to condemn the terrorist attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that left 148 people, mostly children, dead.
Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency prosecutor disagreed with the bail request; but was overruled.
Prosecution chief Chaudhry Azhar expressed surprise at the bail, saying that the trial against Lakhvi was yet to conclude as 15 more witnesses were to testify against him.
"After going through the court order in Lakhvi's bail case we will decide to challenge it," Azhar told PTI.
Lakhvi and six others - Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum - are facing trial and are lodged in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
Lakhvi was the operational head of the banned Laskhar-e-Taiba, and was one of the key planners of the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. His release from jail comes a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to announce a "national plan" to tackle terrorism within a week, saying "this entire region" should be cleansed of terrorism.