NEW DELHI: The India-Pakistan “journey to peace” is progressing “very well”, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said here on Friday.
Speaking to the media soon after his arrival on a three-day visit, Mr Malik also promised to arrest Mumbai terror attack suspect Hafiz Saeed if New Delhi provided credible evidence about his involvement.
Mr Malik recalled how the India-Pakistan relationship had soured in the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack that was blamed on Pakistani terrorists.
Asked about Indian demands for Hafiz Saeed’s arrest and deportation, he said: “Just a statement from (Ajmal) Kasab is not enough.”
“We have to follow the law of the land. And of course (satisfy) the court... There has been a lot of propaganda about Hafiz Saeed.
“I assure you that we are still investigating the (Indian) evidence. And if that evidence can stand the test of courts of international standards, I will order his arrest even before returning home.”
“We have no love lost for Hafiz Saeed,” he added. “Our intentions are clear. Whoever does a crime, should be punished. I come with a message of love and peace from the people of Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Malik said Pakistan had always condemned terrorism. “We have lost 40,000 innocent people (to terrorism), 42,000 have become handicapped.”
“Pakistan and India have to be friends,” Mr Malik said, adding that this would only be possible when there was deeper people-to-people interaction among the two peoples.
He said because of the meetings between the leaders of India and Pakistan, the “journey to peace is progressing very well”.
“For this, I must give full credit to my leader, President (Asif Ali) Zardari, the prime minister, and equal credit to the Indian prime minister (Manmohan Singh) and (Indian finance minister) P. Chidambaram”.
He said he would discuss with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde ways to facilitate the entry of Indians and Pakistanis into each other’s territory once the new visa regime became operational.
“When they (Indians) enter Pakistan, they should feel they are coming to their own home,” he said. “Similar should be the case when people of Pakistan enter India.”
“We are all here to take the peace process forward,” he added.