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Pak says ‘no’ to handing over Hafiz, Masood

Pak President Asif Ali Zardari has rejected India's demand to hand over LeT chief Hafiz Mohd Sayeed and other fugitives in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks and doubted whether the arrested terrorist is a Pakistani national.

By: Agencies | New York |
December 3, 2008 12:28:21 pm

President Asif Ali Zardari has rejected India’s demand to hand over LeT chief Hafiz Mohd Sayeed and other fugitives in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks and doubted whether the arrested terrorist is a Pakistani national.

Two days after New Delhi’s demarche (protest note) demanding the handing over of 20 fugitives, Zardari made known Pakistan’s reluctance to part with them.

“If we had proof, we would try them in our courts. We would try them in our land and we would sentence them,” he said appearing on “Larry King Live” programme on CNN last night.

India’s list of 20 most wanted criminals given to Pakistan included underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.

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India is awaiting Pakistan’s response before deciding on the options it could exercise. New Delhi’s outrage was voiced by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who said the country has every right to protect its territorial integrity and will take “appropriate action” as it feels necessary to deal with the terror strikes emanating from Pakistan.

The minister also did not rule out military strikes against terror camps in Pakistan.

Zardari said that he also doubted India’s claim that the sole surviving gunman, who was captured by Indian security forces, was a Pakistani national.

“We have not been given any tangible proof to say that he is definitely a Pakistani. I very much doubt that he’s a Pakistani,” he said.

Zardari denied Pakistan’s involvement in the attacks, saying the terror strikes were executed by the “Stateless actors” who wanted to hold the “entire world hostage.”

“These (terrorists) are stateless actors who have been operating throughout the region. They include gunmen and the planners and are holding the entire world hostage,” he said.

“State of Pakistan is not responsible for the attacks in Mumbai… even the White House and the US intelligence agency CIA have said so,” he said.

The President ruled out any possibility of Pakistan and India going to war, saying “democracies do not go to war”.

The three wars, India and Pakistan have fought, took place

during dictatorships in Pakistan, he said.

Zardari said this is time to come together, do a joint investigation and look at the problem in the larger context.

“The threat is in the region and just not to Bombay or to India. The threat (also is) to the State of Pakistan. There’s a threat to Afghanistan, It’s a threat throughout region. So that would be counterproductive,” he added.

“I’m a victim. The state of Pakistan is a victim. We are the victims of this war, and I am sorry for the Indians, and I feel sorry for them. I’ve seen this pain. I feel this pain every time I see my children. I can see it in their eyes.

This pain lives with me because of my wife and what we are going through in Pakistan,” he said.

Asked whether Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved in the attacks, he replied that it is a banned organisation around the world. “If indeed they are involved, we would not know.”

These are the people who operate outside the system like al-Qaeda but Pakistan has offered full cooperation to India in investigating the incident and “We intend to do so.”

“We cannot rule anything out at the moment,” he said when asked whether al-Qaeda might be involved. But it is too premature to reach any conclusion.

Zardari denied Pakistan’s involvement in the attacks, saying the terror strikes were executed by the “Stateless actors” who wanted to hold the “entire world hostage.”

“These (terrorists) are stateless actors who have been operating throughout the region. They include gunmen and the planners and are holding the entire world hostage,” he said.

“State of Pakistan is not responsible for the attacks in Mumbai… even the White House and the US intelligence agency CIA have said so,” he said.

The President ruled out any possibility of Pakistan and India going to war, saying “democracies do not go to war”.

The three wars, India and Pakistan have fought, took place

during dictatorships in Pakistan, he said.

Zardari said this is time to come together, do a joint investigation and look at the problem in the larger context.

“The threat is in the region and just not to Bombay or to India. The threat (also is) to the State of Pakistan. There’s a threat to Afghanistan, It’s a threat throughout region. So that would be counterproductive,” he added.

“I’m a victim. The state of Pakistan is a victim. We are the victims of this war, and I am sorry for the Indians, and I feel sorry for them. I’ve seen this pain. I feel this pain every time I see my children. I can see it in their eyes.

This pain lives with me because of my wife and what we are going through in Pakistan,” he said.

Asked whether Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved in the attacks, he replied that it is a banned organisation around the world. “If indeed they are involved, we would not know.”

These are the people who operate outside the system like al-Qaeda but Pakistan has offered full cooperation to India in investigating the incident and “We intend to do so.”

“We cannot rule anything out at the moment,” he said when asked whether al-Qaeda might be involved. But it is too premature to reach any conclusion.

Take action against Hafiz, Masood: India tells Pak

India has asked Pakistan to take strict action against Lashker-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon and terror leader Maulana Masood Azhar, who are named in a list of 20 wanted terrorists handed over to Islamabad by New Delhi.

The list of fugitives was discussed at a meeting of political leaders chaired in New Delhi on Tuesday last night by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to evolve national consensus on a course of action to deal with tensions with India in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai.

Former federal minister and Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told reporters after the meeting that the names of Dawood Ibrahim, Masood Azhar and Tiger Memon figured in the list. However, he did not say what course of action the meeting had suggested on India’s demand to hand over the 20 wanted men.

Indian security officials have linked the Lashker-e-Taiba to the Mumbai attacks. Hours before the attacks, India has suggested during the talks between the home secretaries of the two countries in Islamabad that they should priorities action against persons for whom the Interpol had issued Red Corner Notices.

A Red Corner notice has been issued for Dawood Ibrahim, the alleged mastermind of the 1993 bombings in Mumbai that killed nearly 260 people.

Hafiz Saeed, an engineer-turned-militant ideologue, formed the Jamat-ud-Dawah after Pakistan banned the Lashker-e-Taiba. The Jamat has its headquarters at Muridke near Lahore and has stepped up its activities since Pervez Musharraf stepped down as President.

Masood Azhar, a Pakistani national, formed the Jaish-e-Mohammed after he was freed by India in exchange for passengers of an Indian Airlines flight hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in 1999. Recent reports have suggested that the Jaish has stepped up its activities in Bahawalpur, where its headquarters are located.

Prime Minister Gilani has said that his government will consider taking action against Hafiz Saeed if evidence is provided against him. “Let the proof come and we’ll look into it,” he told a TV channel.

Asked if it would be a “goodwill gesture” if the Pakistan government arrested Hafiz Saeed, he replied: “We have assured full cooperation. Therefore the cabinet has decided for cooperation with India and a probe.”

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