Stung by advisor to the Pakistan prime minister on internal affairs Abdul Rehman Malik’s refusal on Friday to take steps against Lashkar patron Hafiz Saeed without any “solid evidence”, India confronted him on Saturday on punishing the 26/11 accused — especially Saeed — and dismantling of terror camps.
Finally, Indian home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde avoided having a joint press conference and issuing a joint statement on the deliberations between the two sides seemed remote.
But Rehman Malik remained undeterred. He almost rejected India’s demand for action against Saeed. “There is a difference between information and evidence. If I am given hard evidence now… before I leave for Pakistan, I will order his (Saeed) arrest,” he said.
According to sources, Malik — as protocol demands — invited Shinde to Pakistan for the next round of talks. Shinde accepted the invitation, but no indication was given on the time of his Pakistan visit.
The Indian authorities started talking tough with Malik on Friday night itself, with Asif Ibrahim, director-designate of the Intelligence Bureau, taking the lead. The Pakistani side, led by Malik, was reminded in the meeting that it had to act against the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Saeed.
“The Pakistani side was told that it needs to walk the talk as almost all its earlier promises have remained unfulfilled so far,” said a source.
An official who was part of the meetings said, “We have evidence against Hafiz Saeed. He motivated the 26/11 attackers. Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal has also spoken about Saeed’s role. The Pakistani side was informed about all that.”
He said, “We also asked Pakistan to provide us evidence against the key accused of the 26/11 attacks. Our court approved request (letter rogatory) in this regard was sent to Pakistan, but we are yet to get a reply on it.”
On Saturday, the sources said national security advisor Shivshankar Menon also minced no words in his meeting with Malik. He conveyed Indian position on terrorism emanating from Pakistan and the need to curb it in order to have a way forward in bilateral ties.
Malik also paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “He could not elicit a commitment from Singh on an early visit to Pakistan as the Indian side has repeatedly said the visit has to be purposeful,” said the sources.
Later in the evening, Malik met leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. After the meeting Swaraj tweeted that she “raised the issue of speedy trial of the 26/11 accused and persecution of Hindus in Pakistan”.