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Malik's parting shot: India gave insufficient info on Saeed

Last updated on: December 16, 2012 21:27 IST

India has provided "insufficient information" against Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and Pakistan could take action only on the basis of evidence that stands the test of courts, Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters at the airport in Rawalpindi on his return from a visit to India, Malik sought to clear the air on several controversies that erupted during his trip, including his remarks equating the 2008 Mumbai attacks with the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

He acknowledged that the "greatest pressure" was exerted on him on the issue of Saeed, whom Indian officials have accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

"I said the insufficient information you have given, which you call evidence, will not stand the test of our courts and the (Lahore) high court bailed him (Saeed) out," he said.

"I took a clear stand that India has given only information and not evidence against Hafiz Saeed. If they give some evidence, then the government will take action on it like it has done against the seven accused who were arrested and 20 who were declared proclaimed offenders," he said.

Malik further contended that Indian authorities should accept the decision of a Pakistani courts to free Saeed on bail just as the Pakistan government had accepted the death sentence given by an Indian court to Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the Mumbai attack.

"Our courts have given bail to Hafiz Saeed and said not to arrest him because there is not sufficient evidence against him," Malik contended.

Responding to questions, Malik claimed he had raised Pakistan's concerns about alleged Indian interference in Balochistan province and certain seizures of arms in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province with Indian leaders.

He further claimed he had raised the issue of alleged phone calls made to Baloch nationalists from India, but did not give any details.

"It was decided to send evidence once we have consolidated the proof we have," he said.

Without naming anyone, Malik said some leaders had raised with him the issue of migration of large numbers of Pakistani Hindus to India.

"I asked for details as according to our information, the group went to India and came back. Migration is a trend across the world," he said.

Malik claimed he too had proof of Indians migrating to Pakistan. He said he had asked Indian leaders to visit Hindu communities in Sindh to ascertain facts. At the same time, he said Pakistani authorities would act if there were genuine instances of torture or forcible conversion and marriage of Hindus.

In response to several questions, Malik said he had reiterated President Asif Ali Zardari's invitation for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan.

"It is our job as hosts to invite him. It is up to him when he wants to come or whether he doesn't want to come," he said.

"I gave a soft reminder of the President's invitation and told him (Dr Singh) that the village where he was born has been decorated and his old friends were happy that a boy from Chakwal has become the Indian prime minister and an international figure."

Malik further said he had raised issues like the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express and border infiltration with Dr Singh, who had expressed concern about fake currency, the situation along the LoC and the smuggling of drugs from Afghanistan.

Saeed, who now heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, was placed under house arrest for less than six months after the United Nations Security Council declared the JuD a front for the LeT. Saeed lives openly in Lahore despite a $10-million reward offered for him earlier this year by the United States.

Asked about Pakistan's plans to send a second judicial commission to India to gather evidence on the Mumbai attacks, Malik said he and his Indian counterpart had agreed that a team of Indian legal experts would meet Pakistan's attorney general in Islamabad on Tuesday to frame the terms of reference for this commission.

These terms of reference will include the procedures for the commission and the persons the panel can cross-examine.

"If the terms of reference are finalised, the commission will go to India on January 2 or January 3 subject to clearance from the court," Malik said.

The anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of seven suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks rejected the findings of the first judicial commission that visited Mumbai in March as the panel did not have the power to cross-examine key Indian witnesses.

While replying to questions from journalists, Malik sought to defend his remarks equating the Mumbai terror attacks with the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid.

"I took a message that we want no incident in the world like 9/11, there should be no 26/11 in India, there should be no Shia-Sunni clash in Pakistan or Samjhauta Express and we would want that incidents like Babri Masjid too should not happen because such incidents bring grief and misery to the people," he said.

Malik contended that India and Pakistan should jointly frame a strategy to ensure that incidents like the Mumbai attacks and Babri Masjid demolition do not happen in the future.

Rezaul H Laskar
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