We are not responsible for Mumbai attacks: Pakistan minister (Second Lead)

November 29th, 2008 - 12:53 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, November 28 (IANS) Hours after India blamed “some elements in Pakistan” for the terror strikes in Mumbai, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Friday condemned the “barbaric, inhuman attack” and offered cooperation “at every level” with New Delhi.At a press conference organised by the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Qureshi was adamant that the Pakistani government was not behind the attack. “We are not responsible. It is not in our interest to do so,” he said.

He said there was a changed dispensation in Pakistan, which had now an elected government. “The military and intelligence agencies are listening and taking orders from elected representatives. There is an institutional consensus (for better relations with India).”

But he acknowledged that there could be “rogue elements” in Pakistan who would be working to create a wedge between the two neighbours. “We cannot rule out anything,” he said.

The Pakitani foreign minister asserted that “there are no (militant) training camps in Pakistan”. He claimed there were “foreign elements” in Pakistan, like “some Chechens, Uzbeks and Arabs” perpetrating terrorist attacks, even in their own territories.

Reacting to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement that some elements in Pakistan were responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks, he said: “The Indian government should have pondered more, reflected more before coming to a conclusion.”

“I understand the pain and anger (of India). We have to rise above politics and I’m sure the leadership in India is very mature and responsible. I do understand that there are domestic compulsions with some states going to elections.”

“I am mourning with you. And I am equally sad,” said Qureshi, adding: “What we are dealing with is a global phenomenon, neither local nor regional.”

He said that he could have but did not cut short his visit to India after the Mumbai attacks. “I wanted and want to turn the tide of confrontation to cooperation.”

Qureshi said he wanted to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani to convey the sentiment of the Pakistan government.

The foreign minister said experience had shown that it was easy to point fingers on preliminary information, which may change later. “After the Samjhauta train blasts, lots of people had said many things. Today, the investigation is something very different.”

The foreign minister said there were rogue elements in every society, including in Pakistan. “Here in your state, you have an army officer acting in a rogue manner,” he said, referring to the case of the Lt.Col. Srikant Purohit, who has been arrested for his alleged role in Malegaon blast.

On the investigation of the Mumbai attacks, he said, “Pakistan was willing to cooperate at every level with Government of India.”

He said that Pakistan was ready to support India in investigating the Mumbai terror attack. “if ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence)’s services are required, then the chief (of the ISI) will come to India.”

He noted that Pakistan was willing to look carefully at all evidence presented by India on the attacks.

He noted India had said that it would share evidence on a Pakistan link in the Indian embassy bombing in Kabul, it was yet to do so.

In the middle of the press conference, he got a call from Mukherjee.

According to a ministry of external affairs statement, the Indian minister told his Pakistani counterpart that the latter had to stop the use of Pakistani soil for launch of terrorist attacks against India.

Mukherjee, according to the statement, added bilateral relation could not “leap forward”, as long as there were “outrages” like the Indian embassy bombing in Kabul and Mumbai terror attacks.

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