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Pakistani interior minister snubbed at military HQ

In a stinging rebuff, the Pakistani military ignored Interior Minister Rehman Malik when he visited its General Headquarters here to pay homage to officers and soldiers who were killed when militants besieged the complex over the weekend.

world Updated: Oct 16, 2009 14:26 IST

In a stinging rebuff, the Pakistani military ignored Interior Minister Rehman Malik when he visited its General Headquarters here to pay homage to officers and soldiers who were killed when militants besieged the complex over the weekend.

The minister faced an "embarrassing situation" Wednesday when he was not allowed to enter the building during a scheduled visit to attend a ceremony, Dawn said Friday in a report headlined "GHQ is 'out of bounds' for Malik".

Interior ministry sources told the paper that Malik stayed in the complex "for a couple of minutes" and returned to Islamabad after placing a wreath at the Yadgar-i-Shohada memorial, "which is far away from the main GHQ (General Headquarters) building".

"Malik was not accorded protocol at the GHQ where he arrived to place wreaths on behalf of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. He placed flowers on the memorial after he was not taken to the main building," Dawn quoted sources as saying.

There was no senior military official to receive the minister.

Earlier, the interior ministry's media team invited reporters to attend a ceremony, saying the minister would "unveil a plaque bearing the names of the slain military personnel".

Journalists were later told that no such function would be held and they need not reach the venue. Reporters were then informed that the minister had visited the GHQ and laid floral wreaths there.

Eleven soldiers and eight militants died in the siege that began around midday Saturday when heavily armed gunmen stormed the complex. The standoff ended the next day when Pakistani commandos regained control of the area. Among those killed were a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel.