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Premature to share evidence with Pak: Pranab

Source: PTI
December 13, 2008 12:21 IST
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Voicing scepticism over Pakistan acting decisively against terrorists operating from its soil, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said such elements have been let off in the past after some initial action.

"Therefore we shall have to see whether these (actions by Pakistan) are taken to their logical conclusion," he said, asking Islamabad to ensure that the terror infrastructure is dismantled completely.

Reacting to Islamabad's demand for evidence of the involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the Mumbai attacks, Mukherjee said India was ready to do so but not at this juncture, when investigations were yet to be concluded.

"We can make available whatever evidences we have. In this case, we are also investigating, we have not come to any conclusion. Therefore at this juncture, perhaps, it would be premature to share the evidences," Mukherjee said during a TV interview.

He refused to comment on the current crackdown on terror groups in Pakistan, while noting that similar actions took place in the aftermath of the attack on Parliament in 2001.

"Almost similar actions were taken at the initial stage when the international pressure was mounted. After that it was let off," he said, adding that he was waiting to see that these steps are pursued seriously.

"I am waiting to see ... the infrastructure facilities available to terrorists are totally dismantled and the outlawed and banned organisations do not reappear in their new name with the new signboards but with the same old faces," he said.

His remarks follow Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement in Parliament on Thursday that the international community has to be galvanised into "dealing sternly and effectively with the epicentre of terrorism, which is located in Pakistan."                                                                       

Mukherjee said the 'non-state actors' Pakistan has been referring to as behind the terror attacks live and function within the territory of that country.

"That is why, repeatedly, I said elements from Pakistan. That is a phrase I have used meticulously. I would not like to be more specific unless definitive conclusion is arrived at by the investigating agencies," he said.

The minister's comments come amid a crackdown launched by Pakistan against the Jamaat-ud Dawa, the front organisation of the Lashkar-e-Taiyba blamed for the Mumbai attacks, after the United Nations Security Council designated the outfit as a terrorist group.

Mukherjee noted that in response to the demarche issued by India, Pakistan said it was considering various aspects on action to be taken and planning to send a high-level delegation to India.

In the demarche, he said he has sought action against two categories of persons -- those who have committed crimes in India and have taken shelter in Pakistan, and Pakistani citizens indulging in terrorist activities in India.

"Some people who have committed crimes in India and have taken shelter in Pakistan like Dawood Ibrahim. We are asking the Pakistan authorities to hand him over to Indian authorities so that he can be tried as per Indian laws here.

"There are persons who are Pakistani citizens, who are indulging in terrorist activities in India. Let them be arrested and tried as per Pakistan law," Mukherjee said.

The minister said he did not understand the difficulty Pakistan has in handing over Masood Azhar to India. "He was in Indian custody. We had to hand him over to hijackers of the Indian plane in Kandahar. He is available in Pakistan. He is seen on television screens in Pakistan. I do not know what difficulty Pakistan has (in handing him over)."

"Pakistan government did not demand Azhar's return. Hijackers had demanded that you release him. If the Pakistan government cannot hand him over to us, what is the point of  keeping him under house arrest," Mukherjee asked.

On whether Pakistan has sought consular access to Ajmal Amir Iman alias Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist arrested during the Mumbai attacks, he said India has not received any official request.

"To my knowledge, it has not reached me. I do not know whether it has reached the lower level. I will find it out," Mukherjee said.

"Are they saying the man is a Pakistani citizen? I do not know. Have they claimed the dead bodies, I do not know," he said, pointing out that "everything is appearing in the media."

Mukherjee asserted that the government will take all steps to protect the territorial integrity of the country but ruled out war as a solution to the problem.

Asked on how long India would wait, he said, "It depends on how fast, how quickly Pakistan responds or whether they respond at all or not. Therefore it will not be possible for me to indicate any time frame right now."

On the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism, Mukherjee said four meetings had taken place since its establishment but 'nothing has been produced'.

Asked whether the mechanisms have failed, he said, "I do not want to come to any conclusion. But I think, whatever they have committed, whatever they are to do, let them do it first."

Mukherjee noted that Pakistan had twice given the assurance at the highest level of not allowing use of its territory to carry out activities against India.

"We hope and expect that the new dispensation which has come in Pakistan through democratic means, will fulfill their commitment. That is our hope and expectation," he said.

Asked whether it was difficult to deal with several centres of power in Pakistan, Mukherjee said "It may be difficult but I have no option. I cannot change the internal  mechanism of Pakistan."

On Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's article in an American newspaper, he said it speaks of the agony of a person who himself is a victim of terrorist act.

Contending that everybody will have sympathy with him but his sentiments would remain just the same if Pakistan does not follow 'words by proper action'.

"It is not a question of a person or individual... What role he plays as president of Pakistan to fulfill the commitment he gave to our prime minister is important. Words must be followed by proper action. It will remain mere sentiment (if there is no action). It will produce nothing," Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee also made it clear that he was not interested in having a trial by media on the terror attacks.

"These are matters of investigation. After investigation, the matter is taken to court. Due process of law and procedure established by law should follow. Therefore, I am not in a position to share any of the information. It is for the media to find out," he said.

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