Malik comes calling today

New Delhi gears up to receive Pak minister for friendly meeting

Eight months after Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari flew to India, his interior minister Rehman Malik’s two-day visit to New Delhi beginning on Friday is unlikely to cut much ice between the bilateral relations of the two neighbouring nations.

The North Block mandarins are not tagging high importance to this meet but treating this as one of the “friendly” meetings that has been taking place between Union Home Minister Sushilkumr Shinde and Malik in the recent past. Though this is an official meet, as Malik and his wife are accompanied by more than a dozen officials, the two ministers had met on the sidelines of two international events at Rome and Maldives.

Except for making operational a liberal visa regime, Malik, who will be landing in New Delhi at 2 pm, will be deluged with the unending long list of wishes Pakistan needs to fulfill – to counter terrorism emanating from their soil, check counterfeiting of rupee notes and pushing narcotics this side of the border and the shelter they are providing to most wanted fugitives. The meeting between the two ministers will take place from 5 pm on Friday which will be followed by a press conference later in the evening. Malik, who celebrated his birthday on Thursday, and his wife have been booked into Taj Man Singh.  

The remaining delegates will be housed in Ashoka Hotel. The Ministry of External Affairs is said to have denied Malik’s request to meet the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, while he is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj on Saturday.

The home minister is expected to raise the issue of action they have taken against the 26/11 Mumbai bomb blast masterminds including Lashkar-e-Toiba mentor Hafiz Sayeed who is openly roaming on the streets of Pakistan. The North block seems to acknowledge the effort Islamabad is making on conducting trial against the 26/11 conspirators and handlers of Lashkar-e-Toiba. But, they want more affirmative and quicker action against the terror cabal and evidence sought including voice samples of leaders giving live instructions to their fidayeen squad to carry out the attacks in 2008.  

Islamabad, however, has given consent for a team of home ministry and NIA to visit Pakistan to ascertain the finality of their court decision which has directed the judicial commission to visit Delhi again to collect evidence, while denying to accept information collected during their previous exercise.

Among the visiting delegates are also top officials of the Federal Investigation Agency, the equivalent of the CBI.

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