US Pushes Pakistan on Mumbai Attack Conspirators, Welcomes Ban on Haqqani Network

US Secretary of State John Kerry buys a dozen doughnuts for the reporters in his traveling press corps from the Massachusetts-based Dunkin' Donuts franchise at the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, on January 13, 2015

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Washington, DC – US Secretary of State John Kerry raised the question of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack, during his recent visit to Pakistan while expressing satisfaction at the continued detention of the accused according to a senior Obama Administration official.

A senior official from the Department of State told India America Today, “Secretary (John) Kerry did discuss Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi during his recent visit to Pakistan.”

“The Government of Pakistan has pledged its cooperation in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice, and the continued detention of Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi is a positive step,” the senior official added. Lakhvi will remain in jail under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) till February 18 after the government recently extended his detention for another month.

Media reports from the Indian sub-continent suggested that the US and the UK had asked Pakistan to hand over Lakhvi to India to improve bilateral ties or to them for his “independent trial.” During the appearance at the bail case in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) recently the prosecution informed that the “two countries had demanded handing over of Lakhvi to India,” but did not name the countries in the court.

Indian news agency PTI cited Prosecution Chief Chaudhry Azhar as saying that Lakhvi’s lawyer did not attend the latest hearing. Lakhvi and six others – Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum – were charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attacks in November, 2008 that left 166 people including six US citizens dead. Lakhvi was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the other accused on November 25, 2009.

In addition, the Obama administration welcomed reports that, “the Government of Pakistan plans to outlaw the Haqqani Network, I think 10 or 11 additional organizations linked to violent extremism.”

“Obviously, the Secretary was just there and had a wide-ranging conversation with the Pakistanis about counterterrorism, certainly. He emphasized that we’re committed to deepening our security partnership with Pakistan, and obviously had many conversations with Prime Minister Sharif and others. I don’t have many more details than that. I know this was just an announcement that this is planning to happen. I don’t have more details on when it might,” noted the senior official.

Marie Harf, the State Department Deputy spokesperson also told journalists, “We welcome the reports that the Government of Pakistan plans to outlaw the Haqqani Network, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and I think about ten other organizations linked to violent extremism. If they go forward with this it is an important step, certainly, towards eliminating terrorist activity in Pakistan.”

“Secretary Kerry had a very good visit to Pakistan where he talked to the Pakistani Government, as we always do, about counterterrorism, how we can work together more closely. Certainly, this would be an important step going forward,” added Harf.

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