Amid the controversy over his remarks on Babri Masjid demolition and Kargil martyr Capt Saurabh Kalia, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Saturday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and invited him to visit Pakistan.
During his 15-minute courtesy call on the PM, Malik extended the invitation from Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and told Singh that the people of Pakistan, especially those in the village he was born, “wanted to see” him. “The people there want to see that a boy from among them has become the PM of a nation and a global leader. I told him that if you don’t come then we will feel disappointed,” said Malik.
Malik also met National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.
The meetings were held under the cloud of Malik’s controversial remarks on Friday that had left his hosts red-faced. In one of his statements, Malik seemed to equate the Babri Masjid demolition with the Mumbai terror attacks, in another he said he was not sure whether Kalia, whose mutilated body was returned to India in 1999, had died of Pakistani bullets or due to bad weather.
“I am not trying to interfere in India’s domestic issues in any way,” he said today, while appealing that his remarks should not be seen in a ‘negative’ manner.
“There is no comparison at all. Babri demolition was (the result of) ethnic (problem). It was sectarian strife... Pakistan itself is a victim of inter-faith clashes. My intention was only to sound caution to both our countries... What I said was that incidents like 9/11, or Mumbai attacks... people dying in Quetta, our Shia and Sunni people being killed in Karachi... or Babri Masjid, and I am repeating, please do not take it in a negative manner... we do not want such things to happen in our countries,” he said.
On his statement on Kalia’s death, he said he was caught unaware by the question and still did not know how Kalia had died. He said it was unfair for the media to ask him to apologise on behalf of the Pakistani Army for an incident that he was not fully aware of.
He said: “India has never taken up the issue with me or with any of the component of my government bilaterally... And I was not expecting it. So if a 15-year-old incident is put before me