The cat and mouse game with Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi continues. A day after the Islamabad High court declared his detention under the Public Order Ordinance void; the Punjab Home Ministry has detained him again for a month. What is to follow is hardly a guess. The Federal Investigation Authority will fail to present enough evidence to keep Lakhvi from making bail, and once the month period expires the whole episode – and the collateral embarrassment and outrage – will be repeated once more.

The government may not be able to properly prosecute Lakhvi, but it is trying to counter the embarrassment; exercising damage control rather than addressing the real issue, and further politicising it. On Friday the government summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, J P Singh, to the foreign office in Islamabad and a strong protest was lodged with him over India’s deliberate delay in the trial of Samjhota Express. This tit for tat action, mirroring the Indian Home Ministry actions was meant to remind India that it too has international terrorism suspects on trial who have not been prosecuted due to the government’s premeditated lethargy. To an extent this reaction is justified; India has used the Lakhvi trial to roundly criticize Pakistan and push the connection between its government and terror outfits, using dramatic gestures such as summoning Pakistan’s High Commissioner to lodge protests. Regardless of this, such a reaction is to be expected, and could have been foreseen. India’s Kashmir policy includes a conscious media campaign to belittle Pakistan’s claim by linking it to terrorism. Lakhvi trial is bound to be a burning issue in India. Instead of blaming India for raising undue hue and cry, the government should focus on removing the bone of contention once and for all. Instead of politicising the issue to curry favour with voters both governments could have used their diplomatic offices to increase cooperation; exchange evidence, allow people in custody to be examined by the other government. That is the only way forward, for both nations.