‘There is no comparison between masjid demolition and 26/11 attacks’
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Saturday tried to downplay the controversy surrounding his Friday’s statements comparing the Mumbai terror attacks with the Babri mosque demolition and the torture of Captain Saurabh Kalia by the Pakistani Army in the Kargil war in 1999.
His remarks were taken in a “negative way”, Mr. Malik told journalists here. “My statements have been misunderstood…There is no comparison, whatsoever, between Babri mosque demolition and 26/11 attacks. When I mentioned Babri masjid I was talking of inter faith harmony in our region… inter-faith is really my thought.”
He further said Pakistan itself was a victim of inter-faith clashes, sectarian strife. “My intention was not to create confusion but sound caution to the both countries. So I said like the incidents of 9/11, people dying in Quetta, our Shia and Sunni people are being killed in Karachi. I (had) also said incidents like Mumbai blasts, Babri masjid case… we do not want that these things should happen in any region of India and Pakistan.”
Pointing out that India had never put Captain Kalia’s torture by the Pakistani army on bilateral agenda, Mr. Malik said: “Yesterday was first time India raised (Captain) Kalia’s case officially…I only said circumstances of his death are disputed, I am asking for more information. I feel the pain of Captain Kalia’s father…I will definitely look into the matter.”
The Pakistani Minister said “if the Pakistani Army had tortured him, why would they have given his dead body?” He further said: “Yesterday, during the meeting from the first time I was asked to look into the matter. I promised them [Indian delegation]… please give me the detail... I will look into the matter and revert with detailed information. I sympathise with his father.”
Mr. Malik said he would like to meet N.K. Kalia, father of Captain Kalia. “I saw his father’s interview [on TV after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to respond to his plea to take up the case in the International Court of Justice]. It was very hard and painful... The matter has not been investigated. We should jointly look into the whole matter,” he added.
On the release of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, Mr. Malik said once all legal remedies were exhausted, the case would come to the Pakistan President for mercy. “I will have to recommend. But I have to see what kind of formalities are required to be followed or completed if he has to apply for mercy petition.”
Sarabjit’s sister Daljit Kaur and daughter Sapandeep met Mr. Malik on Friday and appealed for his early release. He had invited both of them visit Pakistan as his personal guest and directed Pakistan High Commission officials to issue them a long-term visa to them.