Pakistan will conduct its own investigation into the evidence provided by India on the Mumbai terror strikes and punish any person found involved under its own laws, as it cannot allow the country's soil to be used for terrorism, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Monday.
"We will react like a responsible country and as I said yesterday, if they (India) have some evidence or identify that Pakistani soil was used by any terrorist, we will conduct an inquiry and investigation," Gilani said. "If (the charges) are proved, we will punish the persons concerned according to our own laws because we can't allow Pakistan's soil to be used for terrorism. We are totally clear on this," he told reporters during an official function at the shipyard in this southern port city.
Gilani, who had on Sunday ruled out handing over any Pakistani national found to be involved in the Mumbai attacks to any other country, said that Islamabad was not acting on anyone's pressure.
Asked about statements by Indian leaders calling on Pakistan to do more against elements in the country who were linked to the Mumbai attacks, Gilani said, "We are a responsible and strong country, we are not acting on anyone's pressure. We know how to defend the country".
"We don't want to make any irresponsible statement," he said, adding that there would be no compromise on Pakistan's sovereignty. Replying to another question, Gilani said the US administration is undergoing a transition that is expected to lead to a change in that country's foreign policy. "With the change of the government, I think there will be a change of policy," he said.
Asked about the Pakistan government's decision to bestow one of the country's highest civilian honours on US Vice President-elect Joseph Biden, a move that has been criticised by opposition and Islamic hardline parties, Gilani said, "As far as Biden is concerned, he is pro-Pakistan. He has given a lot of support for Pakistan and democracy".
"At the same time, the Biden-Lugar bill envisages support of $15 billion for Pakistan and he had a big role in getting (former President Pervez) Musharraf to take off his military uniform. We then came close to free and fair elections," the Premier said.
Gilani also said that the President's sweeping powers could be scrapped only if a bill in this regard is presented in the parliament and then passed with a two-thirds majority in both Houses.
The opposition PML-N plans to move such a bill in the National Assembly or the lower House of the parliament. Gilani said there is no understanding between the Pakistan government and the US for allowing drone attacks in the country's north-western tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
"This is a matter involving the sovereignty of the country and we can never give permission for something that affects Pakistan's sovereignty," he said. Gilani said his government had "successfully isolated militants by working with the local tribes".
The drone attacks are counter-productive as it prompts the "tribes and militants to come together again," he said.
"The whole world is with us and wants the drone attacks to stop. If there is credible and actionable information, pass it on to us and we will take action in our own country," Gilani said.