Rehman Malik, advisor to Pakistan prime minister on internal affairs, began his India visit on an uneasy note on Friday, brushing aside the demand for action against Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, allegedly the main plotter of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage.
Rehman Malik arrives in India for bilateral talks
His argument: Not enough evidence were supplied by India to pin down Saeed even after Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving 26/11 attacker who was later hanged, named Saeed in his confessions.
Malik told reporters after landing in Delhi: “We have no love lost for Hafiz Saeed.” He said he was ready to order Saeed’s arrest if New Delhi came up with something more substantial than Kasab’s statement.
Later, at the formal launch of the new liberalised visa system that replaces a 38-year-old restrictive regime, Malik, however, said — with Indian home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde by his side — Islamabad did not want a repeat of the “unpleasant incidents” of the past.
Sinde responded: “Promises were made in the past also, but not fulfilled by Pakistan.”
New Delhi, in fact, sensed that it should not expect any significant movement in anti-terror cooperation between the two sides and called off a joint press conference even before Malik landed.
The uneasiness began with Delhi holding up Malik's arrival as the Indian Air Force refused to let the Pakistan Air Force aircraft, carrying Malik, to land in the IAF-controlled Palam technical area.
Since the clearance for the aircraft and the crew were not taken by the Pakistani authorities, and New Delhi was informed about the PAF plane only last night, Malik's plane finally landed at civilian airport.
Also, the Pakistan high commission hired a ground handling agency, which did not have the necessary clearance for operating in the technical area. According to sources, Pakistani officials detected the "oversight" much late in the day.
He said, "We do not want 9/11, Mumbai bomb blast, Samjhauta Express blast. We do not want Babri Masjid issue." But while asked if he had come up with an assurance on 26/11, Malik said, "Let's forget the dark days…"
It is not something that New Delhi will find easy to do, though. Shinde, who had heard Malik's eloquence on Pakistan's commitment to leaving no stone unturned to punish terrorists, reminded him that Pakistan hadn't delivered on its promises in the past.