Rehman Malik in India, to discuss liberalisation of visa regulations

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Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik during a meeting in New Delhi on Friday. PTI Photo

New Delhi/Islamabad (PTI): Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik arrived in New Delhi on Friday 14 December. His  three-day visit to India will see the operationalisation of the liberalised visa agreement between the two countries. Before leaving for Delhi, Malik said that he would also invite the Indian Prime Minister for a visit to Pakistan.

Earlier in the day, Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal met Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad ahead of his visit to New Delhi for the operationalistaion of a new visa agreement. Malik and Sabharwal discussed “bilateral relations and matters of mutual interest”, Pakistani officials said.

Ahead of Malik’s arrival in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said India had seen “little movement” as far as accountability by Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks is concerned.

Notwithstanding pressure from India, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik today gave no indication of action being taken against 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, saying there was no credible evidence to arrest him.

“We have no love lost for Hafiz Saeed. If I got the information today before I leave from here, I will order his arrest,” Malik told reporters on his arrival here on a three-day visit during which the visa agreement signed by the two countries in September will be operationalised.

Malik said there has been lot of propaganda and there has been lot of pressure on Pakistan. “I have been receiving dossiers with only information,” Malik said, adding Saeed had been arrested on three occasions.

New Delhi has conveyed its strong concerns over Saeed being allowed to roam freely in Pakistan and also indulge in provocative anti-india rhetoric.

Malik said a mere statement of Lashhker-e-Taiba terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was executed on November 21, about Saeed’s involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks could not be the only evidence to nail Saeed. “It needs further corroboration,” he added.

“I will make public official documents from the court’s judgement where Hafiz Saeed has been declared innocent,” he said.

He said Pakistan was still investigating and if there is some evidence, necessary action will be taken.

On the issue of terrorism, Malik said non-state actors had been playing havoc with the relationship between the two countries, both facing the scourge for many years.

The minister said he had come with a message of peace and wanted to move in a positive direction.

Meanwhile former J&K Chief Minister and current union minister for renewal energy Farooq Abdullah termed the India visit of Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik as a “good beginning” and expressed hope that a liberalised visa regulation would help increase business between the two sides.

“I think it is a good beginning. Let’s hope that visa regulations become better, people are able to easily come and go and business is increased between the two countries,” Abdullah said.

His party National Conference issued called for inclusion of Kashmir issue in the talks between Pakistans Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying all possible efforts should be made to resolve this “extremely complex” problem.

“It is encouraging to see the two countries talking to each other and continuing the process of dialogue. The party hopes that Kashmir will find mention in the talks as part of a comprehensive dialogue process and not as one of the subjects,” NC spokesman Tanvir Sadiq said in a statement.

He expressed hope that there will be some forward movement on the resolution of Kashmir issue.

Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has turned down an invitation to visit Pakistan, today criticised Islamabad for its Kashmir policy saying it does not “match the aspirations” of Kashmiris.

“The present policy of Pakistan government vis-a-vis Kashmir is not matching the sacrifices and aspirations of the people of Kashmir,” he told Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir in New Delhi.

Briefing media about the hour-long meeting between Geelani and Bashir hours before the arrival of Pakistan minister Rehman Malik in Delhi, Hurriyat spokesman Ayaz Akbar said the group’s chairman told Pakistan that “Kashmir is not an economic issue or an issue of trade ties but an issue linked to the death and survival of a nation.”

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