ISLAMABAD - Former interior minister and Senator Rehman Malik said on Monday that India’s Research and Analysis Wing had recruited private handlers.

Addressing a news conference here, Malik said that there were documentary proofs that the RAW staged the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

“RAW recruits private handlers. We need to know how the Mumbai attackers were trained in Pakistan and then how they were provided with all the logistic support and who facilitated them in reaching their destination. How the trial could have completed when India is never ready to share any evidence with Pakistan,” Senator Malik said.

The Pakistan People’s Party leader termed the statement of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif ‘highly irresponsible’. He said that Sharif’s statement was contrary to the facts of investigation as Pakistan as a state was never involved in the Mumbai attacks.

“The then (PPP-led) government extended full support to India to investigate the incident thoroughly but, unfortunately, India neither shared anything with Pakistan nor answered the 35 questions which the government of Pakistan had asked for,” he said. Malik said that the then government and he, as the interior minister, had strongly condemned the Mumbai attacks and the incident was taken seriously and was discussed at the National Security Council meeting wherein the three chiefs of forces were present and the responsibility of investigating it was given to him.

A high-powered Joint Investigation Team (JIT) headed by very competent officers such as Tariq Khosa and others was constituted and during the course of the investigation, it was found that non-state actors were involved in the heart-breaking incident of Mumbai attacks, said Malik.  He said the former premier Sharif could not differentiate between a state and non-state actor.

Over the weekend, Sharif said in an interview that those who attacked the hotel in Mumbai in 2008 hailed from Pakistan. In the interview, Sharif asked if “we should allow non-state actors “to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai.” He said: “Militant organizations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”

Malik said that a non-state actor was the one who worked and operated independently from the government adding that India’s agent Kulbushan Jadhav who was guilty of killing many innocent Pakistanis “inside our land was a state-actor sent by the RAW while Ajmal Kasab and David Headley like people are non-state actors who actually worked for Indian agency RAW”.

Senator Malik said that his previous statements were on the records that he had always maintained that these attacks were the sting operation of the Indian agency RAW adding that many times he had asked the then interior minister of India to provide Pakistan the evidence against the accused persons but “every time India failed to provide us any concrete evidence against Hafiz Saeed and others”.

He said: “When our (Pakistani) judicial commission visited India for the trial to proceed and for further investigation, India denied their access to any evidence and the accused persons, Ajmal Kasab, hospital reports, witnesses and magistrate report.”

Senator Malik said that he would like to ask Sharif that when he was the prime minister and knew about the case then why he did not disclose the information. “Why did not he share any such information with his Indian counterpart if he had such a big heart,” asked Malik.

He advised Sharif to withdraw this statement and tender an apology from the nation because it was a “highly irresponsible, immature and damaging statement from a person who had been the prime minister of the country for three times.”

The senator said Sharif’s statement could bring irreparable loss to the country’s image particularly at a time when Pakistan was under observation to be included in the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force and was being blamed for terror-financing.  He said that India will exploit Sharif’s statement against Pakistan at the international level.

He said that India was not only involved in state terrorism in the Kashmir but also sending serving army officers like Jadhav to Pakistan for the purpose of killing people.

“Nawaz Sharif could have dragged India in international courts and the UN on Kulbushan Jadhav case if he had wanted,” said Malik. The lawmaker questioned how Sharif would defend his case if the UN and the FATF call him to prove his statement.