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India opposed to Pak’s deals with Taliban

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is on record seeking “zero tolerance” for terrorism and terrorists, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.
Hindustan Times | By Nilova Roy Chaudhury, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 19, 2008 11:58 PM IST

After Sunday’s release of Mohammed Nayeem, the Indian held captive for almost a month in Afghanistan, India is making its displeasure felt and will tell Islamabad that it is totally opposed to deals made between Pakistan and elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is on record seeking “zero tolerance” for terrorism and terrorists.

Pakistan cutting deals with renegade elements in the Taliban to “buy” itself security from terrorism is completely unacceptable and India will make its views apparent when Mukherjee and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon hold discussions in Islamabad from Tuesday.

“There is no such thing as good Taliban and bad Taliban. There can be no deals with terrorists,” a senior government official said.

The release of Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin was reportedly part of a deal between the government and local Taliban under which around 330 prisoners would be swapped after signing a formal peace agreement in the troubled northwest tribal areas of Pakistan.

Maulvi Omar, the spokesman for Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, said Azizuddin’s release was part of the expected deal. Mehsud was among those blamed for the assassination of former Pakistan Premier Benazir Bhutto.

However, Rehman Malik, advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister on Interior Affairs, denied any deal had been struck for the envoy’s release.

The UPA government has been severely critical of its predecessor’s (NDA government’s) release of prisoners such as Masood Azhar (founder of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed) to secure the release of passengers of the hijacked IC 814 aircraft in 1999.

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