PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today maintained that his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi did not raise the extradition of controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik, despite New Delhi saying yesterday that such a request was made in January.
“I met Modi, he mentioned Zakir but he didn’t ask for him to be sent back,” the prime minister told reporters after launching the foreign policy framework of the New Malaysia here.
The Indian government had challenged Mahathir’s claim that no extradition request was made for Naik when the prime minister met his Indian counterpart in Russia earlier this month.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the issue was raised during Mahathir’s meeting with Modi in Vladivostok on Sept 5.
In a report by The Indian Express, he also said India had requested Naik’s extradition from Malaysia in January.
Naik, who is wanted in India for questioning, was granted permanent resident status in Malaysia by the previous Barisan Nasional government.
He recently created a furore through his remarks about Indians and Chinese in Malaysia, and has been barred by the police from speaking in public.
He has since apologised, but says he was a victim of a vilification campaign.
In an interview with business radio station BFM yesterday, Mahathir said Modi had not asked for the preacher’s return during their recent meeting.
On a separate issue, Mahathir said the government’s foreign policies cannot be separated from domestic realities.
Speaking at the launch of the foreign policy framework, he said foreign policies cannot be effective if they contradict the expectations and realities of the domestic environment.
“Simply put, foreign policy begins at home,” he said.
He added that Malaysia was concerned over the trend of “powerful companies” imposing unilateral sanctions, disrespecting trade agreements and violating international treaties.
He said sanctions affect more than just a single nation.
“Malaysia will submit to what it must, but it will be under open protest,” he added.