New Delhi: Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik today made a subtle attempt to change the narrative of the fragile India-Pakistan relationship by including Babri Masjid in the framework.
"I bring a message of peace from the people of Pakistan. We do not want 9/11, Bombay blast, Samjhauta blast or Babri Masjid. Let us forget the past and move ahead," Mr Malik said while addressing the media with Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in New Delhi.
The 1992 Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya has not been raised by Pakistan in the context of 26/11 or any terror attack earlier.
By equating Babri Masjid with the 26/11 attacks, Mr Malik may have been trying to address his constituency back home, but it took the Indian delegation by surprise and invited a retort from Mr Shinde.
"I am happy that you assure us that you will do everything to bring the masterminds of 26/11 to justice, but Pakistan has failed to deliver," Mr Shinde grimly remarked as the function to operationalise the new liberalised visa agreement between India and Pakistan was hastily brought to an end.
The Pakistan minister also met the family of Sarabjit Singh, the Indian on death row in a Lahore jail. He promised them visa to travel to Pakistan and meet Mr Singh. "I will try my best to help you," he told the family. Mr Singh has been on death row in Pakistan after being convicted for bombings in 1990.
Mr Malik is on a two-day visit to India as both countries introduce a new visa system that will make cross-border travel easier for businesspeople, tourists and religious pilgrims. But the talks with Mr Malik will focus extensively on the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai and India's demand for action against mastermind Hafiz Saeed, chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
Mr Malik arrived in Delhi nearly four hours behind schedule because there was complete confusion over where his plane should land. His office was reportedly told by Indian officials in Islamabad that he could land at the Delhi's Palam Technical Airport, often used by VIPs.
However, the Indian Air Force, which controls the airport, did not clear the plane's arrival. While some sources said the Air Force had not been informed of Mr Malik's arrival, others said that permission to land at Palam was denied because the handling and clearing agent assigned to deal with the Pakistani delegation was not cleared for the high-security area. The minister's plane was then asked to land at Delhi's T-3 international airport.