Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Friday categorically stated that the Inter Services Intelligence was not involved in the Mumbai terror attack and maintained that Islamabad had no issues with New Delhi helping Afghanistan in its development provided there was no Indian Army presence on that side of the Durand Line.
Mr. Malik made these remarks while interacting with an Indian media delegation that is visiting the country on the invitation of the Pakistan Government. Replying to a host of questions, the minister side-stepped controversial issues like the alleged Indian hand in the unrest in Balochistan and how the visa situation between the two countries had been complicated by India’s insistence of having every application scrutinized by the Union Home Ministry.
About the recent bonhomie between the two countries, Mr. Malik said while there is confidence within the two governments about being able to make some progress, neither side wants to create a hype because there are issues that cannot be addressed overnight. As for the progress in the Mumbai terror case that is going on in Pakistan, his contention was that there is enough evidence but the courts go through a process that can be time consuming.
Meanwhile, the thaw in bilateral relations was witnessed by the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners who wrapped up their visit of Pakistani prisons housing Indian prisoners on Friday. Indian members of the Committee found a marked difference in the attitude of the Pakistani authorities this time as compared to their previous visit in 2008. ``There was an evident willingness to address the issue,’’ they said; pointing out that counsellor access was provided to some fishermen and prisoners on the spot.
The Committee visited the Malir Jail in Karachi – where all the 260 Indian fishermen are kept – besides jails in Rawalpindi and Lahore. Given that there is some discrepancy in the Indian and Pakistani list of prisoners – more so in the case of non-fishermen -- the Committee recommended that the figures be reconciled at the earliest and consular access provided to the remaining prisoners in the second week of May.
According to a statement issued by the Indian High Commission, the Committee – which has four retired judges each from both countries – is likely to visit Indian prisons in the second half of June.