Pakistan envoy calls for better ties

Even as Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s controversial comments triggered strong protests in India, Salman Bashir, Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi, on Monday said that both the neighbours should try to “change the narrative" of the troubled ties between them. 

“We need to start changing the narrative….We need to create an enabling environment,” Bashir said, even as Pakistani Interior Minister’s remarks about suspected 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and the role of Indian “non-state actors” in plotting the November 26-28, 2008 carnage evoked protests from India.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India was speaking at a conference on “Driving South Asia Economic Integration”, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries.
“One of the greatest hazards of any move on India-Pakistan relation is how it plays out in public domain,” he said.

Bashir’s remark came just a day after their Interior Minister criticised Indian media for allegedly twisting the comments he made during his three-day visit to New Delhi.

Malik’s purported remarks – equating Babri mosque demolition with 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, describing incarcerated 26/11 plotter Abu Jundal as an operative of an intelligence agency of India, dismissing evidences provided by India against ‘jihadi ideologue” Saeed as ‘insufficient’ and ‘mere information’ and seeking to highlight the role of non-state actors of India in the carnage – triggered protests from the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and prompted Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Monday to make a statement in the Rajya Sabha contradicting the Pakistan Minister.

Bashir, meanwhile, sought to defend Malik on his controversial remark on the torture of Indian Army soldier Capt Saurabh Kalia by Pakistani Army personnel during the 1999 conflict in Kargil.

“I am not in a position to add or subtract anything at this point... but I can say that this point was mentioned, the day before yesterday in the meeting between the two ministers,” Bashir said.

“There is no Pakistan position as yet... The (Indian) minister had said, he (Malik) was taken by a little bit of surprise you know, but I will not comment on this matter at this point of time,” he added. Malik drew flak for his remarks that he was not aware whether the Indian officer “died of a Pak bullet or weather”.

Torture

Capt Kalia of the 4 Jat Regiment of Indian Army, along with other soldiers, was captured by Pakistan Army and tortured during the Kargil conflict in May 1999. The mutilated bodies of Kalia and others were handed back to India after more than three weeks of their capture.

India raised the issue during Malik’s meeting with Shinde in New Delhi on Saturday. India asked Pakistan to take action against the tormentors of Kalia and other Indian soldiers.

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