Mr Home Minister, why on earth did you invite Mr Malik?
Rehman Malik, interior minister of Pakistan, landed in Delhi, came out of the airport, folded his hands to do a namaste and announced he was carrying the message of peace from every Pakistani for every Indian. But in less than 10 minutes, he had snatched away the peace of mind of not just the Kalia family but billions of Indians. When asked if Pakistan is willing to apologise for mutilating Captain Saurabh Kalia's body just before the Kargil War broke out, Malik made all the right noises, "I would love to meet Shri Kalia's father, hold his hand, there should be no hesitation in saying sorry to a man who lost his son." And then came the twist in the tale, "I don't know about this case. In a war, bullet doesn't see who is who." And then the worst as far as India is concerned. "I don't know if a bullet or the weather killed Captain Kalia," said Malik.
Mr Shinde, did you ask Mr Malik how bones can be broken, eyes gouged out, organs mutilated by inclement weather?
Next the interior minister of Pakistan moved to the grand setting of Hotel Ashoka to operationalise an even 'grander' visa agreement. It had to be grand considering Malik refused to sign the agreement at the home secretary-level talks in June and said the occasion demanded presence of ministers from both sides. So the two ministers met but Malik's 10-to-15-minute-long speech had only the last few seconds devoted to the new visa regime. The rest of the speech was to show India that it had scored a self goal by inviting him.
Seated next to India's home minister, home secretary and MoS Home, Malik declared that the Babri Masjid demolition was a terror attack. Why else would you equate 9/11, 26/11 and Samjhauta Express blast with Babri Masjid?
The home secretary nudged and winked to signal to his minister to not let Rehman Malik get away with this canard but it was too late. Mr Shinde, your reminder to Mr Malik about unfulfilled promises can not undo the damage done.
Most Indians are asking that if you knew Pakistan was not coming with the voice samples of the 26/11 accussed (in a press conference you had said that Malik had promised to get them when he would come), that it would not act against Hafiz Saeed or dismantle the terror apparatus, why did you invite Mr Malik?
Mr Rehman Malik has made no secret of his eternal desire to visit India. Your predecessor Mr Chidambaram had refused to entertain his request because no action was taken in the 26/11 case. You, Mr Shinde, told CNN-IBN that talks could not be held hostage to 26/11 forever.
With the latest irritants of Babri and Captain Kalia, most Indians would perhaps disagree. The question is: do you regret inviting him?