Pakistan was "seriously focussing" on the investigation into the Mumbai attacks but its ties with India could not be held hostage to the 26/11 probe, President Asif Ali Zardari said during a meeting with British Premier Gordon Brown in London today.
Zardari, who is in Britain on a three-day visit, met Brown at 10, Downing Street and told him that Pakistan was "seriously focussing on the Mumbai attacks' probe." "...But as agreed in the joint statement at Sharm el-Sheikh (after a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani), the bilateral relations between the two countries could not be held hostage to the Mumbai probe," Zardari said during the meeting.
A statement issued by presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar in Islamabad quoted Zardari as saying that the joint statement of Sharm el-Sheikh "should provide necessary impetus for the resumption of the Pakistan-India dialogue."
The joint statement last month had said that "action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process and these should not be bracketed." The two Prime Ministers had agreed that "terrorism is the main threat to both countries." They also decided that both would "share real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats."
Five Lashker-e-Taiba operatives, including its operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, are currently facing trial in an anti-terrorism court following their arrest by Pakistani authorities on charges of planning and executing the Mumbai attacks that killed over 180 people.
However, Pakistan has said the information provided so far by India is not adequate for arresting Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of the LeT.
India has made it clear that peace talks can be resumed once Pakistan takes action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks. Zardari also apprised Brown of Pakistan's successes in the fight against militants and the rehabilitation of people displaced by military operations against the Taliban.
He said the international community should step forward and "help Pakistan in this arduous task." The two leaders discussed bilateral ties, the regional and international situation "with focus on economic rehabilitation and strategic support to Pakistan in the wake of the fight against militancy."
Zardari also emphasised the need to carry forward the improvement of relations between Pakistan and Britain in the political, economic, investment, education, science and technology and cultural fields. Referring to the regional situation, Zadari said Pakistan will work with international partners to promote the stabilisation of Afghanistan.
Zardari expressed the hope that trilateral consultations among the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan will gather impetus after the recent presidential election in Afghanistan. A Downing Street spokesman also said that Zardari and Brown discussed a number of regional issues, including Afghanistan.
Britain and its allies fighting in Afghanistan want maximum cooperation from Pakistan in controlling the border regions between the two countries. The Zardari-Brown talks come after 22 guards were killed by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint in the Khyber Pass in Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan.
The bomber approached on foot as the guards were breaking their Ramadan fast yesterday. Brown recently renewed his warning that three quarters of terror plots against Britain come from the area, where Pakistani security forces were fighting the Taliban.