Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwart Rehman Malik, who was the Interior Minister when 10 LeT terrorists launched a brazen attack on Mumbai in 2008, died at a hospital on Wednesday due to coronavirus-related complications. He was 70.
Malik, a special intelligence agent-turned politician, tested COVID-19 positive in January and had complained of breathing problems. Earlier this month, he was put on a ventilator.
"Deeply devastated to say that former interior minister [and] PPP's senior leader, Abdul Rehman Malik, passed away," Malik’s spokesperson Riaz Ali Turi tweeted on Wednesday.
Malik, a former Senator, is survived by his wife and two sons. Condolences came from across the political spectrum in Pakistan on the news of the veteran politician’s demise.
Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi expressed grief over the death and expressed sympathies with the deceased's family. The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement from Imran Khan, who prayed for the deceased. "May Allah Almighty forgive the deceased and grant patience to the mourners,” the PMO tweeted.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said he was saddened by the news and shared the family's pain. "Devastated with the news of @SenRehmanMalik passing after severe covid. He was there for us during exile and remained steadfast with the party no matter the hardships. His loss will be felt deeply by us all," former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's daughter Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari said in a tweet, which was re-tweeted by PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
Before he entered national politics, Malik was with Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency as a special agent and was elevated to the post of the Additional Director General in 1993.
During his stint as a director, he coordinated numerous successful counter-terrorist operations, including the arrest and extradition of Yousaf Ramzi to the US in 1995. Ramzi was one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the bombing of the Philippine Airlines Flight 434.
Malik was considered a close associate of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari. He served as the chief of security of Bhutto from 2004 to 2007.
During the military regime of Pervez Musharraf, Malik persuaded Bhutto and exiled prime minister Nawaz Sharif to join hands against the General. The famous Pact of Democracy agreement between PPP and PML-N was signed by Bhutto and Sharif at Malik's house in London. He also facilitated reconciliation between the PPP and then-military president Musharraf, and the National Reconciliation Ordinance was issued.
When the PPP government was formed after the 2008 general elections, Malik was appointed Advisor to the Prime Minister on Internal Affairs. He was later given the portfolio of Interior Minister by the then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Malik, who was the interior minister during the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008, had claimed that the terrorist assault of this magnitude could not have been carried out without the backing of an “Indian network.” He, however, did not give any evidence to substantiate his claims.
During the PPP government, he was awarded Sitara-e-Shujat - one of the highest civilian awards in Pakistan. He also received the Nishan-e-Imtiaz.
With PTI inputs.