ISI chief can come to India later, says Zardari

November 29th, 2008 - 11:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari has not ruled out sending the ISI chief to New Delhi and assured India that if any evidence was found linking any individual or group in Pakistan with the Mumbai terrorist attacks he would take “strictest action” against them.He underlined that his country would offer full cooperation to India in investigating the terror attacks that killed at least 183 people.

While Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Friday agreed to his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh’s request to send the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to India to exchange information about the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistan backtracked hours later and said it will only send a representative of the spy agency.

Zardari, however, clarified that there was “miscommunication” on this issue and said Pakistan had only agreed to send a director of the ISI.

“We have announced that a director would come from ISI, because it is too early for the director general to meet at the moment,” Zardari told Karan Thapar in an interview to be telecast on the CNN-IBN Sunday.

“Let the evidence come to light.. let the investigation take its course, then perhaps the director general could meet,” he said.

“I do not rule out the possibility of cooperation of the highest echelons of the intelligence agencies,” he said.

Zardari denied Pakistan’s link with the terrorist attacks. India has blamed elements in Pakistan for the attacks.

“Let me assure you, if any evidence points to any individual or group in my part of the country.. I shall take the strictest action in the light of the evidence and in front of the world,” Zardari said.

“We would like to see the evidence,” he stressed.

Zardari, who became president only three months ago, also denied the existence of any terror camps in Pakistan.

“If any evidence points out to any camps, and if we are aware of anything that sort, we will not only close down and take action against the people those who are running those camps in its soil,” he said.

Zardari, however, hedged when asked whether he would provide India access to terrorist masterminds like Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, Mohammad Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim who are said to be in Pakistan.

“This is a procedural matter, which requires the court of law and requires rules and regulations. We have a common agreement on this,” he said.

“We have to come into a bilateral relationship where we have interactive relationship and we can question people we find responsible for in your part of the country and the people you find responsible in our part of the country… I am willing to work with that mutual assistant agreement,” he said.

He offered India full cooperation in investigating the attacks.

“Without any hesitation.. whatsoever.. no matter where it’s needed,” he said when asked whether Pakistan will cooperate with any investigation into the Mumbai terror attacks.

Unstinting in his condemnation of Wednesday’s terroris strike, he underlined his solidarity with India. “I’m hurt. I’m bleeding. I stand with the people of India.. I stand with the leadership of India. I am sorry that you are going through this,” he said.

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