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Pakistan asks India to provide 'solid evidence'

world Updated: Dec 07, 2008 15:47 IST

In the face of growing international pressure to act against elements linked to the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistan's civil and military leadership has decided to ask India to provide "solid evidence" before levelling "baseless allegations" against it.

This was decided during two meetings on Saturday that were chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and attended by senior ministers, military officials and opposition leaders. The meetings reviewed the security situation on Pakistan's eastern and western borders and the fallout of the Mumbai attacks.

The first meeting, at which opposition leaders were not present, decided to confront "negative propaganda by the Indian media" by explaining Pakistan's position to world, the pro-establishment The News daily reported.

The top leadership also decided to ask India to provide "solid evidence" before levelling "baseless allegations" against Pakistan, the newspaper quoted sources as saying.

There was no official word on the discussions at the two meetings. A brief statement issued after the first meeting only said that it had discussed "various issues of national importance".

The first meeting, which was attended by Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, lasted more than two hours.

The meeting discussed the security situation in the tribal areas and NWFP and Kayani briefed the prime minister about a recent corps commanders meeting. The ISI chief briefed the prime minister about the national security issues, The News reported.

PML-N president and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, attended the second meeting that was held late at night. The army and ISI chiefs, the foreign minister and the defence minister were also present.

Though PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was invited to the meeting by the prime minister, he sent his brother Shahbaz to attend.

The meeting discussed strategic issues and the top military officials briefed the opposition leaders on the security situation. Pakistan-India relations in the wake of the Mumbai attacks were also discussed.

The meeting reportedly decided not to send any representative of the ISI to India unless India provided solid proof of the involvement of any Pakistani "non-state actor" in the Mumbai attacks. It decided to deal with "anti-state elements" firmly, sources said.

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