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Malik words shrugged off

New Delhi, Dec. 16: Rehman Malik was never invited when P. Chidambaram was home minister partly because of his penchant for irresponsible statements, former home secretary G.K. Pillai said today, hours after the Pakistan interior minister suggested India was to blame equally for 26/11.

“After I and Mr Chidambaram had visited Pakistan (in June 2010), we had realised he would make some outlandish remarks if he comes to India. He had promised us that Pakistan will show results on the 26/11 investigations within six months. Nothing happened. That is why during Mr. Chidambaram’s tenure he was not invited at all,” Pillai told The Telegraph.

During a lecture in Delhi, Malik partly blamed Indian security agencies for “failure” to prevent the Mumbai attack, alleged “Indian non-state actors” were involved and claimed “regular information sharing” could have prevented the strike.

Malik named three individuals as Indians — Abu Jundal, Jabbiullah and Fahim Ansari — and said they had conspired with the Pakistani-American David Headley and al Qaida’s Ilyas Kashmiri, a former major of the Pakistan Army. Jundal is in the custody of Indian agencies but Ansari has been acquitted.

Malik also claimed Jundal, deported from Saudi Arabia and allegedly present in the Lashkar’s 26/11 control room, was once “one of the sources of a very elite agency of India”. The Indian home ministry trashed the claim.

The Pakistani minister pointed out that the 26/11 plotters had conducted a “recce” of the targets. “All these should have come to the attention of some agencies. Now the agencies failed. Both here and Pakistan. So, we have failed. Why? Because there was no interaction between Pakistan and India.”

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid downplayed Malik’s remarks, saying they did not appear to be “carefully worded or well discussed” and could not be taken “as a formal articulation on behalf of Pakistan”.

“It is not that he is nobody. He is an important part of the Pakistan government. But I think you should not take it as a formal policy statement of Pakistan at this stage,” Khurshid said when asked about Malik’s comments.

Former RAW chief A.S. Dulat also shrugged off Malik’s statements, saying there was nothing wrong in inviting the minister but he needn’t be taken seriously. “He is not taken seriously by his own people in Pakistan, so why should we?” said Dulat, now involved in track-two diplomacy.

Pillai recalled that when he and Chidambaram went to Pakistan, the two were uneasy at Malik’s show of “unwarranted warmth”, including an offer of a ride in the Pakistani leader’s personal helicopter.

Pillai rubbished Malik’s excuses about legal obligations hampering Pakistan in getting voice samples of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Lakhvi, allegedly a key member of the 26/11 control room, is in a Pakistani jail.