26/11: Malik meets PM; NIA team to visit Pakistan

A judicial commission from India on the 26/11 probe is likely to visit Pakistan next week, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said.

New Delhi: India`s National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the 26/11 attack is likely to visit Pakistan in mid-January while a Pakistani judicial panel could visit India next week, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said here Saturday as he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to press him to visit Pakistan and his native village.

"Whatever trust deficit was there, it was removed," he said of his talks with Indian leaders.

Malik, who also met National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, sought to deflect the negative publicity evoked by his purported comparison of 2611 with Babri mosque`s demolition and offered an investigation into the death of Kargil martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia.

In an interview with NDTV news channel before his meeting with the prime minister, Malik said that the issue of judicial commission was discussed during his meeting with Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde Friday evening. "And yesterday we have worked out a way forward so that the (Pakistani) judicial commission may come next week," Malik said.

Malik, who arrived here Friday on a three-day visit, said he has invited the NIA "in the middle of January".

"Let the director general of FIA (Pakistan`s Federal Investigation Agency) and NIA sit together and resolve issues," Malik said.

Shinde had raised the issue of the NIA team`s visit during his meeting with Malik on the sidelines of the SAARC ministerial meeting in the Maldives in September.

The NIA wants to go to Pakistan to examine material evidence against key masterminds and accused in the 2008 attacks that claimed 166 lives.

An eight-member Pakistani judicial commission had visited India in March following a bilateral agreement but did not cross-examine the witnesses. It is expected to so during its next visit to the country and present its findings to the Pakistani court trying those accused of involvement in 2611 attacks.

Shinde also took up the matter of voice samples of the 26/11 handlers, which India hopes to match with the ones on tape giving directions during the Nov 26-29, 2008 attack.

Malik said according to Pakistan`s law the voice samples "cannot be given unless the permission is given by accused himself".

"We have moved the high court on the matter of (Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zakiur Rehman) Lakhvi`s voice sample and it is pending there," he said, adding that the high court was reminded about this two weeks ago.

Malik said his government was taking steps to expedite trial of the seven people, including Lakhvi, in a Rawalpindi court.

On LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, Malik said the Mumbai attacks mastermind had been bailed out thrice by the court and "we have been prohibited to arrest him, these are the orders of the high court".

He repeated his statement of Friday, asking India to provide "substantive evidence (against Saeed) that can stand the test of court".

Malik denied he had equated the demolition of the Babri Masjid with terror attacks.
"When I spoke of Babri, I never compared it with terror acts," he said, adding: "What I said is that we do not want ugly incidents... Never made such a comparison," Malik said.

Speaking to reporters later, Malik said he had spoken about Babri mosque in context of inter-faith harmony. "911, 2611 happened. There were blasts in Quetta and Bombay (Mumbai). Babri mosque demolition happened. We want any such incident should not happen in India or Pakistan," he said and added his intention was not to hurt.

"Inter-faith is really my thought," he said.

Referring to his meetings with Indain leaders, Malik said: "Overall, very good meetings, very effective message."

Referring to Pakistan`s invitation to Manmohan Singh to visit the country, Malik said he told the prime minister that people of his native Chakwal district wanted to meet him.

He said Manmohan Singh was not only prime minister but enjoyed respect globally.
"If he (Manmohan Singh) does not come, people will be disappointed," Malik said.
The minister said he explained to prime minister steps taken to bring to book those involved in the 2611 attack.

On his remarks on Kalia, Malik said in his interview: "My full sympathies are with the family... Since the matter concerns the ministry of defence, I will take the information and have it investigated... The cause of death is not yet determined. If he was tortured, how could you expect that we would give such a body (back), knowing the reaction it would elicit."

He also said that India had "never raised with Pakistan in any way" the issue of Kalia`s death.

He accused the media of creating the agenda for the India-Pakistan talks, terming it "not fair".

Speaking at a function organised by the Confederation of Indian Bar, Malik said that there were "many monkey businesses" on to protect geo-political interests and India and Pakistan should not fall prey to them.

Malik also raised the slogan of "Indo-Pakistan Friendship Zindabad", with the organisers announcing the formation of an India-Pakistan friendship society.