Pakistan offers India full support, is not on defensive (Lead)

November 29th, 2008 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Nov 29 (IANS) Pakistan Saturday said it would remain “fully engaged with the Indian leadership” to jointly fight terrorism even as it denied any link with the terror attack in Mumbai and cautioned New Delhi against mud-slinging.“It’s easy to get into mud-slinging and blame. We have to rise to the occasion, understand and join in efforts to fight this menace,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters here after a cabinet meeting to discuss the mayhem in Mumbai.

Qureshi, who cut short his four-day visit to India and abruptly left for Islamabad Saturday morning, cautioned India against “finger-pointing or coming to any hasty conclusions” which, he stressed, “will play into the hands of the common enemy - the terrorist”.

“No evidence has been provided… The government of Pakistan and all institutions of Pakistan are unanimous that Pakistan is not involved in this ghastly affair,” he asserted.

“We are not the defensive,” he underlined.

India has not blamed the government of Pakistan for the 60-hour Mumbai terror attack that claimed over 180 lives, but suspects the hand of groups based in that country.

Qureshi pledged full moral and material support to India while underlining the commitment of the “people of Pakistan and its institutions” to combating terrorism.

Amid widespread concerns about a likely chill in bilateral relations after India blamed elements in Pakistan for the terror in Mumbai, Qureshi underscored that his country will remain “fully engaged with the political leadership and establishment of India” and keep the peace process going.

“We attach the highest importance to friendly and good neighboring relations with India. Good and friendly relations are essential to peace and security,” he said.

Recalling his talks with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi Wednesday, Qureshi said the two discussed a gamut of issues ranging from trade and culture to visas and combating terrorism.

He also recalled that the mayhem started in Mumbai minutes after his talks with Mukherjee and the moment he knew about it he was in contact with the Indian leadership and media over the terror attacks.

Qureshi had Friday condemned the “barbaric, inhuman attack” and offered cooperation “at every level” with New Delhi. He also warned against “playing politics” with the terror attacks and said the two countries need “to turn the tide of confrontation to cooperation”.

He had, however, 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.”

Mukherjee rang up Qureshi Friday evening in the middle of a press interaction in New Delhi and impressed upon him the need for Pakistan to take immediate action over the terrorist strike in Mumbai. He also reminded Islamabad to honour its pledge to not to allow its territory to be used for terror attacks against India.

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