A friendly visit from Pakistan's Minister of the Interior has left India angrier than ever, prompting the Times of India and others to report that the official trip "backfired" to erode trust between the age-old enemies.
Due to repeated provocations from Malik during sessions with the media, India in the end refused to issue a joint statement about the discussions, despite the step forward Dec. 14, when a new, more liberal visa regime was put into effect, the Times of India writes.
India's refusal was "a public protest against the provocations of the visiting Pakistani minister which set the peace process backwards, negating the very objective of the meeting," the paper said.
Apart from sticking to his country's line and demanding additional evidence before any action could be taken against Hafiz Saeed, the alleged head of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Malik implicilty compared the 2008 Mumbai attacks with the 1992 destruction of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya by Hindu fanatics. He also claimed that an Indian soldier whom India claims was tortured to death while a prisoner of Pakistan during the Kargil war may have died because of inclement weather.
The only concrete outcome was the understanding on the visit of a second Pakistani judicial commission to India to cross-examine the key 26/11 witnesses here. But in what vividly illustrates how the alleged peace mission was marred by a deepening suspicion of Pakistan's intent to take the 26/11 probe and trial to a logical conclusion, India insisted on two riders.
It insisted that a home ministry team should be allowed to visit Pakistan to work out the modalities and sort out the legal issues in the panel's visit. Secondly, the home ministry sought a firm legal opinion from Pakistani law officers on admissibility of the information that the panel seeks to collect from cross-examining witnesses here and also an express assurance that this would be the final visit of the judicial commission.