Calling the 26/11 Mumbai attacks an act of terrorism, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he has asked his administration to find out the status of the case in Pakistani courts, adding it was in the interest of his country to resolve the case.
“We also want something done about the bombers of Mumbai. I have asked our government to find out the status of the case. Resolving that case is in our interest because it was an act of terrorism,’’ he said in an interview to The Washington Post.
He was asked why LeT Commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the Mumbai attack, was released on bail while a nine-year trial has dragged on for six other suspects in Pakistan with no result.
Talking about initiatives he had taken to normalise ties with India, Khan said he had opened a ‘visa-free peace corridor’ to Kartarpur Sahib so that Indian Sikh pilgrims could visit a holy shrine in Pakistan.
Asked why New Delhi had dismissed his peace gestures, he said it was because of the upcoming elections in India. ‘’ The ruling party has an anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan approach. They rebuffed all my overtures,’’ he observed, adding he was hopeful of resuming talks with India after the elections.
On his country’s relations with Washington, Khan said he has told President Donald Trump that Pakistan was not US’ hired gun anymore. He said wanted a ‘proper relationship’ with Washington.
Trump, in a letter to Khan couple of days ago, had sought Islamabad’s help in ending Afghan conflict and bringing Taliban leadership to the negotiating table.
Asked about his ‘twitter war’ with the US president, Khan said ‘‘it was not really a Twitter war, it was just setting the record right. The exchange was about being blamed for deeply flawed U.S. policies — the military approach to Afghanistan.’’
There were no sanctuaries in Pakistan, he claimed. Rejecting the US charge on sheltering Taliban leaders in Pakistan, Khan said he was briefed about the situation and that he was told that Pakistan has asked the US several times to share where the sanctuaries were.
“We have 2.7 million Afghan refugees. Our border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has the greatest amount of surveillance. The US has satellites and drones. These people crossing would be seen,” he said when pressed upon the presence of militants on the Pakistani soil.
On the killing of Al-Qaeda Chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, he said ‘most Pakistanis felt deeply humiliated that we were not trusted, implying that we were complicit in it’.
On question of future of Pak-US ties, the Pakistan premier noted: “I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun — given money to fight someone else’s war. We should never put ourselves in this position again. It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity. We would like a proper relationship with the U.S.”
Defending ties with Beijing, he said ‘’our relationship with China is not one-dimensional. It’s a trade relationship between two countries and we wanted a similar relationship with US.’’