Pakistan cabinet minister Noor-Ul-Haq Qadri “should have been more sensitive” while sharing the dais with 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan’s foreign minister has said, acknowledging the mistake committed by his ministerial colleague this week.
“I will go home and certainly ask him why he did that. But what I am told it was an event to highlight the situation in Kashmir,” Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a Washington audience on Wednesday when asked about the cabinet minister for religious affairs sharing a dais with the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba’s chief at a meeting in Islamabad.
“It had nothing to do with Lashkar-e-Taiba. There were other political elements there. He happened to be one of them,” Mr Qureshi said.
“I think he (Mr Qadri) should’ve been more sensitive, but it wasn’t that he subscribes to his (Hafiz Saeed’s) point of view,” the Pakistani foreign minister said.
Mr Qadri’s presence at the event with Hafiz Saeed vindicated India’s stand that there is no change in Pakistan’s attitude towards terrorism.
A member of the audience from the US Institute of Peace, funded by the American government, told the Pakistani foreign minister to explain why earlier this week their country’s cabinet minister appeared side by side with “the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist organisation banned by Pakistan.”
Mr Qadri was seen seated near Hafiz Saeed as he addressed an all-party meet organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council in Islamabad on Sunday last.
Difa-e-Pakistan Council is a coalition of over 40 Pakistani political and religious parties that advocate conservative policies.
Mr Qureshi said Pakistan is serious in the fight against terrorism. “We cannot surrender to terrorism. We will have to take them on and we will have to clear areas. We have successfully done that…” he said, adding Pakistan’s efforts are not being recognised by the US.