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Malek ends India visit after stoking another row

Also insists that Pakistan was not involved in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack

Gulf News

New Delhi: Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malek on Sunday ended a three-day visit, triggering another row by alleging that an Indian linked to the Mumbai attack was actually an Indian intelligence agent.

Before flying home, Malek also insisted that Pakistan was in no way involved with the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that left 166 Indians and foreigners dead and took India-Pakistan ties to a new low.

At an interaction held here by the Observer Research Foundation, Malek said Pakistan was awaiting “substantial evidence” from New Delhi to act against Lashkar-e-Taiba leader and Mumbai-terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

He admitted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made it clear that his trip to Pakistan would be linked to “effective action” taken against those in Pakistan who bled Mumbai.

He said Indian Islamist Abu Jundal was a criminal who “worked as a source for [an] elite agency of India” and added that he could have turned into a double agent.

Jundal, whose real name is Syed Zabiuddin Ansari, is said to have been present at the Karachi-based “control room” from where the horrific Mumbai attack was overseen.

Jundal was deported from Saudi Arabia and arrested in Delhi in June.

Indian Home Secretary R.K. Singh ridiculed Malek’s claim.

Malek pointed to the role of Pakistani American David Coleman Headley, Jundal, S.A. Ansari and Iliyas Kashmiri in the 26/11 attack, and said that it proved that non-state actors were to blame.

“We have non-state actors, you have non-state actors,” he said, adding it was important to tell the truth “so that we find a way forward”.

Malek said a proposed visit by Pakistan’s judicial commission to India to cross-examine 26/11 witnesses would help expedite the conviction of the seven arrested in Pakistan in connection with the Mumbai attack.

He said there was “irrefutable evidence” against them in the Pakistani court.

Malek said India can set the terms for the visit of the second judicial commission. “Once the procedure ends, we will be able to get conviction.”

But he stuck to his line about Hafiz Saeed, who India wants deported.

Malek said his country required evidence and information provided by India was not sufficient as it relied on a statement of Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist arrested in Mumbai and hanged last month.

“We need substantial evidence ... still waiting for that,” he said, adding that Pakistan can act against Saeed only if the evidence can stand a judicial test.

“We are determined to arrest him but with evidence ... you need more physical evidence.”

Malek denied Pakistan was responsible for the infiltration of Kashmir militants from his country to Jammu and Kashmir.

He said he had urged Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj to visit Pakistan to see there was “no mass migration” of Hindus from the country.

He said a perception had been created that the Pakistan government was not doing enough to bring to book those involved in the Mumbai attack.

Malek denied he had compared the 1992 Babri mosque razing with the Mumbai attack and accused the media of twisting his remarks.

The Pakistani minister, who arrived on Friday, said he had “very good interaction” with Indian leaders and was able to convey the message from Islamabad effectively. “Let us become brothers,” he said.

Earlier Sunday, Malek prayed at the shrine of the 14th century Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

“I prayed to Allah for a harmonious and peaceful relationships between both countries.”