Pakistan prime minister again raises spectre of war

December 26th, 2008 - 2:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Benazir BhuttoIslamabad, Dec 26 (IANS) Hours after ruling out the possibility of a war in the wake of Mumbai terror strikes, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani turned belligerent on the issue, saying the country was prepared to “respond in a befitting manner” if attacked. “Pakistan is a civilised nation, which has denounced terrorism. But, we are fully prepared to respond in a befitting manner if war is imposed on us,” he said at a press conference Thursday evening at Larkana after paying tribute at the tomb of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on her first death anniversary.

Hours before, while speaking to reporters in Lahore, Gilani had said: “There is no question of war. There is absolutely no question of war.”

“We had good relations with India. I assure you that we want excellent relations with India. We want to maintain good relations with India,” said the prime minister. “In my assessment, there will be no war.”

At the same time, Gilani urged the world to convince India to defuse the situation that followed the audacious Nov 26-29 Mumbai terror attack that left at least 170 people dead, including 26 foreigners. India has blamed the attack on Pakistan-based terrorists.

The prime minister returned to the theme at the Larkana press conference - India to share evidence with Pakistan of the involvement of its nationals - and reiterated his government’s stand that any non-state actor found involved in the incident would be punished in accordance with the law of the land.

“Gilani said the government has carried out checks on the persons India had named and none of them were citizens of Pakistan,” Dawn reported Friday.

India has forwarded to Pakistan a letter written by Mohammed Amir Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested during the Mumbai strikes, seeking consular access and a lawyer to defend him.

A Pakistani official said Wednesday there was no record of any Kasab and so there was no question of granting him consular access.

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