Stop war hysteria, hand over terror suspects: India urges Pakistan (Intro Roundup)

December 26th, 2008 - 11:53 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanNew Delhi/Islamabad, Dec 26 (IANS) India Friday denounced Pakistan for whipping up “war hysteria” by moving troops towards the border citing threats of an Indian surgical strike following the Mumbai terror attacks, even as it reiterated demand that Pakistan hand over three people named for the carnage.A day after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that Pakistan did not desire a war with India, a senior Pakistani official said: “Threats of attack by India still persist”.

Speaking to IANS in Islamabad, the official said Pakistan would be forced to move its troops from the Afghan border, where they have been fighting Taliban and Al Qaeda militants, to the Indian border on the east if the Indian war threats continue.

Shortly thereafter, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that Pakistan needed to focus on taking action against terrorists who slaughtered over 170 people Nov 26-29 in Mumbai.

“My request to friends in Pakistan would be (that) instead of diverting attention from the real issue, they should concentrate on how to fight against terrorists and how to bring to book the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack,” Mukherjee said after talking to visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

He said India had indicated that there was ample evidence “that elements from Pakistan” were responsible for the globally condemned Mumbai savagery that also killed 26 foreigners.

Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Satyabrata Pal, during his meeting with Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir in Islamabad Friday, reiterated the demand for handing over the three Mumbai attack suspects - and also called for taking measures to stop terrorism originating from Pakistan.

Officials said that Bashir replied that any action against the three people - including Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar and mob boss Dawood Ibrahim - would be only taken after receiving evidence against them.

“The Indian High Commissioner was told that both these persons were not present in Pakistan,” said an official, adding that Dawood Ibrahim has never lived in Pakistan and is an Indian national, while Masood Azhar has left the country and the government was also looking for him.

Elaborating on the travel advisory, an external affairs ministry spokesman said in New Delhi: “There have been reports in the Pakistani media that several Indian nationals have been arrested over the last two days in Lahore and Multan, and are being accused of being terrorists.

“Indian citizens are, therefore, advised that it would be unsafe for them to travel to or be in Pakistan,” the spokesman added.

And, although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had declared earlier this week that India did not desire war, the Pakistani official told IANS that signals from New Delhi “are not for peace but are threatening”.

Pakistan has moved troops to the Indian border, including the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries, in a clear sign of rising tensions.

In New Delhi, Manmohan Singh met the three Service chiefs to study the security scenario. “The Service chiefs briefed the prime minister about the preparedness of the armed forces,” a defence ministry official said.

India Friday also furnished evidence of Pakistani involvement in the Mumbai terror to the Saudi foreign minister, who called for a global body to deal with the “cancer” of terrorism, Indian officials said.

According to the official in Islamabad, Pakistan has received messages from the US and its allies that they would “persuade” India against taking “extreme steps”.

According to media reports, the Pakistan Air Force is on high alert and was conducting aerial surveillance of the Chashma nuclear power plant, 280 km southwest of here, and other sensitive sites.

The Pakistan Army has cancelled all leave for its troops.

The official, however, said that Pakistan was ready to resume peace talks at any level and anywhere with India as war “will never resolve the problems”.

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