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Zardari delays Afghan trip; meets Gilani, PAF chief

world Updated: Jan 06, 2009 17:41 IST

President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday delayed his maiden official visit to Afghanistan in the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that Pakistan's official agencies had supported the Mumbai attacks and discussed the regional security situation with top political and military leaders in Islamabad.

Zardari met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood Ahmed, to review the regional security situation.

An official statement said Ahmed briefed Zardari on the "operational preparedness of the Pakistan Air Force". Official sources were quoted by TV channels as saying that Zardari and the political and military leaders had rejected Singh's comments about the Mumbai attacks being supported by some of Pakistan's official agencies.

The sources also quoted Zardari as saying that Pakistan would give a befitting response to any aggression. Pakistan is a responsible state that wants peace but this should not be considered its weakness, Zardari reportedly said.

Media reports quoted PAF chief Ahmed as saying that his force is on alert and prepared for any eventuality. The PAF is capable of defending the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Ahmed reportedly said.

Zardari and Gilani discussed matters related to national security and Pakistan's ties with India, the reports said. The President was scheduled to leave for Kabul on Tuesday morning but deferred his departure in the wake of Singh's statement.

India on Monday handed over evidence related to the Mumbai attack to Pakistan and asked it to take action against
those who had planned and executed the strikes. Pakistan has said it is examining the evidence and also conducting its own investigations into the Mumbai incident.