Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not going to visit Pakistan just yet but India will have a significant Pakistani visitor on a significant day – Interior Minister Rehman Malik – whose birthday will see a grand celebration sponsored by the Government of India.
Singh wrote to President Asif Ali Zardari saying although he would like to visit Pakistan, the timing was not conducive just yet. This puts paid to the expectation that the visit might happen during this tenure of the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers.
Pakistan is expected to go to polls in May and India, in May next year. It is reasonable to expect therefore, that now, a trip that has been long awaited might materialize only after 2014, when a new government is in place in both countries.
However, India has agreed to accommodate a personal request from Malik and will host him from December 11 to 13 to enable him to spend his 61st birthday at the Taj Mahal with his wife on December 12.
Malik’s earlier scheduled visit was cancelled because it came immediately after Ajmal Kasab’s hanging. The Indian government’s official reason was that Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde would be busy with Parliament.
But the Indian Parliament will still be on when Malik comes visiting and will in fact, see Shinde’s ministry having to answer questions according to a prescheduled roster.
His minister of state will reply to questions on the floor of the House.
Shinde on Tuesday wrote to Malik, proposing December 11-13 and the two ministers are expected to sign operationalisation of the liberalised visa agreement either on December 11 or 13, since Malik will be away to Agra on December 12.
A joint press conference is on the cards. However, India has got no special assurance from Malik if he will be bringing along voice samples of the 26/11 accused in Pakistan.