As Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde continued to play the gracious host, the BJP on Monday demanded the upcoming Indo-Pak cricket series be cancelled in retaliation to “insulting” remarks over the weekend by Abdul Rehman Malik, adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister on interior affairs.
The BJP demand followed Shinde’s statement in Parliament where he contradicted Malik’s assertions on JuD chief Hafiz Saeed but stopped short of blaming his Pakistani counterpart for trying to mislead India and the people.
During his three-day visit, Malik had blamed New Delhi for not providing adequate evidence to nail Saeed in the 26/11 case, insisting that Islamabad had thrice arrested him but had to let him go.
Shinde told Parliament that contrary to Malik’s assertions, Saeed had never been arrested in the 26/11 case.
“Therefore, I can only say that Mr Rehman Malik appears to have been misinformed in the matter,” the home minister said in his first public remarks on Malik’s visit.
Government sources, however, pointed out that Malik — who rose from the ranks of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency to head the agency before getting into business and politics — would have been aware of the facts.
Insisting that Shinde should have never invited Malik in the first place, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said: “What kind of goodwill we are creating by playing cricket matches after Malik's visit?”
“The Indo-Pak cricket series (commencing on December 26) should be cancelled,” he said.
Incidentally, a section within the BJP had similarly opposed the resumption of cricketing ties in March 2004 that had the support of then PM AB Vajpayee and followed the January 2004 joint statement between Vajpayee and then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraff.