Pakistan moots intelligence hotline, says let’s cooperate against terror

November 27th, 2008 - 4:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Chandigarh, Nov 27 (IANS) Expressing “shock and horror” at the terror attacks in Mumbai, Pakistan Thursday called for strengthening the joint anti-terror mechanism with India and offered to set up a hotline between intelligence chiefs of the two countries. Pakistan, however, warned against “making insinuations against each other” in case of terror attacks and underlined the need for a cautious approach towards tackling the common scourge.

“I was shocked and horrified to hear about the barbaric incident that took place last night in Mumbai. I condemn this tragic incident in the strongest possible terms,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is here on a four-day visit, said here.

Recalling his talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday, he suggested that both India and Pakistan strengthen the joint anti-terror mechanism to combat terrorism.

“I pointed out that both Pakistan and India are victims of terrorism and will have to further strengthen the joint anti terror mechanism to deal with this scourge,” he said in a statement here hours after multiple blasts in Mumbai that killed over 100 and left several others injured.

“I also offered that there should be a direct contact and hotline established between the intelligence chiefs of the two countries, so that they can share information and cooperate with each other in a more effective manner,” he said.

In his talks with Qureshi, Mukherjee Wednesday had also underlined the need for a result-oriented approach towards tackling terrorism and called for strengthening the anti-terror mechanism.

Condemning the blasts in “unequivocal terms,” Qureshi Thursday underlined the need to respond to terrorism in “a very measured, composed and determined manner.”

“Pakistan offers complete support and cooperation to deal with this menace. We have to collectively fight extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” he underlined.

Alluding to the deadly terror strike at Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September, Qureshi said: “We, in Pakistan, are dealing with terrorism on daily basis. People of India know that we suffered similar attack in Islamabad at the Marriott Hotel recently.”

“So we understand their concern, anxiety and the shock and horror this attack has generated all over India,” he added.

Calling terrorism “a global phenomena,” he exhorted all civilized societies will have “to join hands and pool in their resources to deal with this menace.”

India had blamed Pakistan-based terrorists for the deadly bomb attacks on commuter trains in Mumbai two years ago and offered to produce evidence to support the charge. The suspicion over Pakistan’s links to the Mumbai blasts froze the peace process for a few months and led to the setting up of a joint anti-terror mechanism in September 2006.

Preliminary investigations into the Nov 26, 2008 bombings are going on. This time round, India has not pointed a finger at foreign agency or operatives so far.

India and Pakistan held a special meeting of the joint anti-terror mechanism to address issues relating to the bombing of the July 7 Indian mission in Kabul in which New Delhi says it sees the hand of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI. Islamabad has hotly denied the charge.

Qureshi traveled to Chandigarh Thursday to participate at an international conference on “Cooperative Development, Peace and Security in South Asia.” Qureshi warned against making insinuations against each other and underlined the need for a cautious approach towards tackling the common scourge.

“Today you are victims. We are victims of terrorism on a daily basis. We must cooperate at this time instead of making insinuations against each other,” Qureshi said in Chandigarh.

“It’s a very sad incident but lets not jump to conclusions and cut a sorry figure. Let’s show maturity. We will cooperate, I can assure you,” he added.

Referring to the Samjhauta blast of Feb 2007 he said: “The Samjhauta incident very clearly indicates that we have to be cautious. Our expressions and our insinuations have to be measured. Pakistan wants to cooperate. We have to face the common enemy in terrorism and it is a global challenge.”

Asked what he thought of Pakistan being blamed for the Mumbai attacks he said: “I have not heard anyone make any such remarks.”

Talking about the boat on which the terrorist allegedly came from Karachi, Quershi said: “Have you seen the boat? Could you travel on that boat from Karachi? Media should be supportive and understanding. It’s to early to say anything.”

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