Need to de-escalate and avoid conflict: Kayani (Roundup)

December 29th, 2008 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Dec 29 (IANS) Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani Monday urged de-escalating India-Pakistan tensions and avoiding a conflict in the interest of peace and security, even as Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani reiterated that no one would be allowed to use the country’s soil for terrorism.”The army chief highlighted the need to de-escalate and avoid conflict in the interest of peace and security,” a military spokesman here said in a statement following a meeting between Kayani and visiting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yahei.

He Monday met Kayani and other government officials to discuss the situation after the Mumbai attacks in an effort to end tension between the two nuclear neighbors.

On Sunday, the Pakistani and Indian directors general of military operations had held an unscheduled conversation on the hotline in a bid to defuse the situation with reports of Pakistan moving thousands of troops from the Afghan border to the Indian frontier. The officers normally speak on Tuesdays.

Officials here said both military officers assured each other they would not take any steps that could lead to aggression from either side.

On Sunday, media reports said that Pakistan had moved troops from its western borders along Afghanistan to the eastern borders with India. However, officials here denied any such movement saying the troops involved in the war on terror will continue to be stationed along Afghanistan.

“There is no truth in reports that troops have moved from the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and there is no unusual movement along the India border,” a military official told IANS.

Relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated after the Mumbai attacks that India has blamed on militant groups in Pakistan and has asked for extradition of three people suspected for the carnage, which claimed more than 170 lives.

On Monday, Gilani reiterated that no one would be allowed to use Pakistani soil for terrorism, adding that Pakistan is a responsible and peaceful nuclear state.

In an address at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) campus, Gilani said Pakistan is a peaceful country that wants good relations with its neighbours.

He said no parallel government would be allowed in the country. “No one would be allowed to use Pakistani soil for terror activities,” he added.

Meanwhile, Iran has offered to facilitate a Pakistan-India meeting at the highest level the spokesman said, adding both Tehran and Beijing have clearly said that they do not want any armed conflict as it would destabilize the region.

Both the Chinese and Iranian foreign ministers also talked to their Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the issue and have assured their support and readiness to mediate, a senior government official said.

Pakistan has welcomed the Iranian and Chinese moves, saying: “Pakistan is ready to hold talks with India at any level and any place.”

An official here said that Iran would be sending its senior officials to Pakistan and India and has offered to arrange a meeting at highest level between the two countries. “We don’t have any problem in meeting with India at any level,” said the official.

Media reports here Monday said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is going to New Delhi early this week for talks with the Indian leaders on the alarming situation prevailing in the neighbourhood.

He may visit Islamabad immediately after concluding his discussions in the Indian capital. The Iranian president, who is deeply concerned about the rising tension between the two neighbouring nuclear states on its southeast, has been interacting with both the countries.

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