Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who courted controversies over his recent remarks on the 26/11 Mumbai attack, on Monday defended himself, saying he will speak the truth no matter what the consequences are.
The ousted prime minister, on Saturday, publicly admitted Pakistan's role in the 2008 Mumbai attack, which claimed over 150 lives in the financial capital of India.
Sharif was speaking to a Pakistani daily 'Dawn' and questioned the policy to allow the 'non-state actors' to cross the border and 'kill' people in Mumbai.
"Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete trial?," Sharif was quoted by the Pakistani daily.
During his interview with Dawn, the former prime minister was questioned why Pakistan has not completed its trial in the 26/11 Mumbai attack till the time and his reply to the same had come as a shocker to the country.
In the wake of this fresh controversy, the National Security Committee has called a high-level meeting to reject the statement. Under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the NSC on Monday met to discuss "misleading media statement" attributed to Sharif.
Earlier in the day, Sharif defended his earlier statement, making a contradictory remark to the stance taken by his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
On Sunday, the party president Shehbaz Sharif said that the party "rejects all claims made in the report, be they direct or indirect", Dawn newspaper reported.
"What did I say that was wrong in the interview?" 68-year-old Sharif asked while talking to reporters outside an accountability court in Islamabad, where he is facing corruption charges.
After the publication of Sharif's interview on Saturday, his party issued a clarification, saying that the Indian media had "grossly misinterpreted" his remarks.
Sharif on Monday dispelled the notion that the comments were falsely attributed to him, saying that he will speak the truth come what may.
"Former president Pervez Musharraf, former interior minister Rehman Malik and former National Security Adviser Major-General (retd) Mehmood Durrani had already confirmed [what I said]," he added.
Nawaz regretted that those who ask questions are being termed traitors in the media.
"Despite our 50,000 sacrifices [of lives], why is the world not paying heed to our narrative? And the person who is asking this question has been labelled a traitor."
He also called out those local media outlets that had criticised his words. "I am being called a traitor on the media. They [the media] are being made to call me a traitor."
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"Are those who tore apart the country and the Constitution patriots? Are those who pulled out judges from their offices' patriots?"
"Will speak the truth no matter what the consequences are," he said.
When a reporter pointed to Sharif's acknowledgement of the presence of "non-state actors" in the country, his daughter Maryam, who was accompanying him, replied: "So then who was Zarb-i-Azb [military operation] conducted against?"
Operation Zarb-e-Azb was a joint military offensive conducted by the Pakistan Armed Forces against the various militant group in 2014.
According to Dawn newspaper, differences within the ruling party surfaced following the issuance of contradictory statements by the Sharif brothers on the issue.
However, the incident is being seen as an admission of Pakistan's involvement in the terrorist attack in 2008.
Ten heavily armed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists had sailed to Mumbai in November 2008 and carried out coordinated attacks that killed 166 people and injured over 300. Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Chief Hafeez Saeed, who is the mastermind of the terror attack, is being allowed to roam free by Pakistan across the world.
The case is now in its 10th year, but Pakistan is yet to punish any of the suspects.
(With inputs from agencies)