Islamabad: Meet the latest entrant to Twitter Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who has taken to the social networking site with aplomb while tweeting on topics as diverse as his colourful ties and a court order upholding the freedom of Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed.
Having been on Twitter for little more than a week, Malik even has a suggestion for his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram. Malik's Twitter handle is @SenRehmanMalik.
Responding to a proposal from an Indian user that he should get Chidambaram to join the site, Malik wrote: "I agree with your suggestion. I highly recommend Twitter to my friend, colleague and counterpart, Mr Chidambaram."
Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik has a suggestion for his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram.
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Ironically, Malik took to Twitter only after he couldn't log into Facebook, where he has his own page, after Pakistani authorities banned the networking website over blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.
Internet users initially assumed that the account in Malik's name on Twitter was a fake but the minister personally confirmed to some journalists that it was genuine. Malik currently has near 1,100 followers, including several Indians.
As soon as it was established that Malik's account was genuine, he received several queries on Pakistan's war on terror and the government's position on persons like JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, blamed by India for masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Asked by a senior editor of an Indian daily about the Pakistan Supreme Court's decision to uphold a lower court's order freeing Saeed from house arrest, Malik tweeted: "Sir, the issue of Hafiz Saaed is sensitive and sub-judice. It was the court's decision and I respect the court's decision."
In response to questions from an Indian and a Pakistani on the Mumbai incident, Malik replied: "Sirs, I will prefer not to comment on 26/11. Both Pak & Indian governments are working closely together on this matter."
In another tweet, Malik noted that Pakistan and India have a "common history" and said, "If we resolve all outstanding issues, our friendship will bring much peace and prosperity to the region."
Malik, who is known for sporting ties in bright colours like pink and green, responded enthusiastically when two persons tweeted about his attire.
"Thank you for appreciating my tie collection," he wrote.
In other tweets, Malik touched on issues such as madrassa reforms, building the capabilities of Pakistan's police force and the war on terror.
"The solution for a terrorism-free Pakistan is education, education, education," he wrote.
And in the face of some criticism that federal ministers should pay more attention to governance instead of joining social networking websites, Malik tweeted that he felt Twitter "is one step closer to pure democracy where citizens have direct and uncensored access to their government".
There was also a prompt response to a tweet from this correspondent that a request for an interview was pending for a long time with the Interior Minister's office.
Malik tweeted that his aide should be contacted so that an interview could be set up for "next month sometime".
After a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Malik tweeted that the government had accepted his proposal to block only those parts of YouTube and Facebook that hosted blasphemous material.
Though the government has lifted the ban on YouTube, Malik later tweeted that the blocking of Facebook would continue as the Lahore High Court's order in this regard is effective till May 31.
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