The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jilani gets no time for goodbyes

New Delhi, Feb. 8: Charge d’affaires, socially popular — now persona non grata. It is hardly the departure Jalil Abbas Jilani wanted from India.

For a man popular in the capital’s social circuit, a deadline of 48 hours is too short a time to take leave the way he would have preferred — after weeks of partying and farewell calls.

“I feel extremely humiliated and pained to leave this way. I am made to appear like the villain of the piece,” the Pakistani deputy high commissioner said after being expelled along with four mission staffers. His anger and disappointment is not because of the deadline. It is the circumstance under which he has to leave.

But Jilani wants to exit with a brave face: “Truth shall prevail. But when it comes out, I shall be long gone.”

The diplomat has rubbished all the charges levelled against him, particularly his direct involvement in distributing money to militants based in Kashmir through Indian contacts. “I am surprised that they decided to level this charge against me even as the investigations are still going on,” he said.

Jilani repeated what he has been saying for the past few days — that he did not know Anjum Zamarud Habib, the 42-year-old woman and active member of the Hurriyat’s women’s wing who was caught with Rs 3.07 lakh as she came out of the Pakistan high commission on Thursday.

Jilani claims that neither he nor any of his colleagues in the high commission were involved in giving her the money. “The Pakistani high commission never indulges in such activities,” he said while arguing that despite the support for the Hurriyat, Pakistan has never given the organisation funds, especially from its mission in Delhi.

There have been other charges against him, too. Indian sleuths increased their vigil on Jilani when he started ferrying in his flag car the defence attaché and other officials of the high commission to meet contacts in Delhi. But Jilani says he cannot be faulted on this. “I see nothing wrong in taking him around in my car. He is a newcomer in the city and this apart, he is also a very dear and old friend of mine. It is a sheer coincidence that he got posted in Delhi at a time when I was here.”

He also brushed aside insinuations that the defence attaché was involved in activities not compatible with his official status. “He is one of our top guys and he is also a very fine officer,” he asserted.

But Jilani had good things to say, too, about his three-year stint in Delhi. “Despite the tensions in our bilateral relations, me and my counterparts in South Block tried to make progress in getting civilian prisoners and fishermen released,” he said.

He also goes back with fond memories of the many friends he made in India. “At a personal level, individuals have been extremely nice and warm towards me and my family. I will always remember that.”

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