Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has spoken exclusively to NDTV about the US operation to kill Osama bin Laden and about relations with India. He said he had sent a "private message" to India's Home Minister P Chidambaram that the Osama incident should not cast a shadow on the Indo-Pak equation.
And he appealed to the world to view Pakistan as a victim of terrorism.
Mr Malik told NDTV's Barkha Dutt that he knew about the Osama operation "15-20 minutes after it started." He also said that Pakistan's ISI had provided the initial intelligence about Al Qaeda operatives to America's CIA.
Asked why the ISI had not acted earlier, Mr Malik said that, "We'll fix responsibility...the agency as a whole hasn't failed." He also said, "We admit part failure of intelligence... a probe has been ordered...Pakistan's soil shall not be used for terror.
Reiterating the point that his Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani made in his statement to the Pakistan Parliament yesterday, Mr Malik said Pakistan could not be faulted in the Osama incident. Osama, he said, had used guerilla techniques to hide in the garrison town of Abbottabad. The Al Qaeda chief, he said, was "a criminal, a terrorist" who had killed many people in Pakistan and also tried to assassinate former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto twice.
No one in Pakistan, Mr Malik said, questioned the killing of Osama. But they did question the way it was done, he said - "The sovereignty of Pakistan has been hit...the US should have shared information with us."
Mr Malik denied media reports that Pakistan had sanctioned a unilateral operation to get Osama.
The Interior Minister echoed Gilani again when he said foreign agencies, including the CIA, had created Osama bin Laden.
On whether Pakistan would accede to the US demand for access to Osama bin Laden's three widows and children, Malik said Pakistan had not received a formal request for this yet. They would decide, he said, once that request was made by the Americans and in accordance with domestic law.
A private message to Chidambaram
The Pakistan minister said he had sent a private message to India's Home Minister P Chidambaram after the Osama operations, appealing to him "to not allow the Osama bin Laden operation to cast a shadow on relations with India." He described Mr Chidambaram as a "man of wisdom; I have a lot of respect for him."
Asked to comment on Mr Chidambaram's statement that if 9/11 victims had got their justice, what about victims of 26/11, Mr Malik said the delay in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case trial was not because of the Pakistan government but because of the courts.
His government, he said, had filed an appeal in the High Court to allow us to take voice samples of 26/11 suspects.
He also said that Pakistan was open to allowing the Indian judicial commission access to 26/11 suspects, though he emphasised that this would be "only on a strictly reciprocal basis."
"We are awaiting formal clearance for Pakistan's judicial commission to travel to India," Malik added.