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Pranab to Pak: Act against terrorists

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee asked Pakistan to take credible action against terrorists and said "mere assurances" would not help normalise relations with India.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2008 21:21 IST

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday asked Pakistan to take credible action against terrorists and said "mere assurances" would not help normalise relations with an India still mourning the Mumbai terror tragedy.

And in his most explicit remarks on Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, Mukherjee also demanded that Pakistan return him to India, which freed him following the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Afghanistan.

Referring to promises made by then and present Pakistan presidents, Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari, to not allow terrorists to use Pakistani territory against India, the minister said: "We want those assurances to be fulfilled. We want that the infrastructure facilities available (to terrorists in Pakistan) be dismantled."

Mukherjee's comments follow Islamabad's insistence that Pakistan has nothing to do with the Nov 26-29 terrorist mayhem in Mumbai that killed over 170 people, including 26 foreigners. Pakistan says the lone terrorist caught in Mumbai is not a Pakistani.

Mukherjee added that India expected the various India-Pakistan mechanisms dealing with the problem of terrorism such as the dialogues between home and foreign secretaries to yield results.

"(They) should lead to mere assurances and expressions... We expect good sense will prevail (in Pakistan)… Words must be followed by action."

A correspondent wanted to know why India was not giving Pakistan the evidence it was demanding if it was indeed true that Pakistani terrorists carried out the Mumbai carnage.

"The fact of the matter is that on 10 earlier occasions we have given evidence after various events. It is not enough to give evidence, it is necessary to act on the evidence to lead to logical conclusion," he replied.

Mukherjee said the list of 40 people in Pakistan India is seeking for various crimes included both Indians and Pakistanis and that the names had been submitted over a period of time. "We want them to return them."

Saying the Pakistan government had nothing to do some of the persons, Mukherjee referred to the Jaish chief Azhar, who was one of the three prisoners India freed under duress after terrorists hijacked an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

"One gentleman was in Indian custody. A plane was hijacked from a third country. It was taken to another country, Kandahar in Afghanistan, and the hijackers demanded that you release that person and hand (him) over us so that we release the Indian passengers and the Indian aircraft. Otherwise they will be killed.

"To save the lives of the innocent people, the person was handed over to hijackers. Nowhere Pakistan comes (in the picture). The hijacking did not take place in Pakistani land. The plane did not land in Pakistan… How does this gentleman appear on Pakistani television?

"When international pressure is mounted, he is placed under house arrest… What is the difficulty in handing him over to us? Hijacking is an international crime."

Mukherjee reiterated that the terror attack in Mumbai had nothing to do with India-Pakistan relations or Jammu and Kashmir.

"It is not a Kashmir issue, it is not merely an issue between India and Pakistan. It is part of the global action and global war on terrorists."

He went on: "The colour of terrorism is same everywhere in the world. Terrorism has no ideology, no religion, no respect for any territorial boundary."

First Published: Dec 16, 2008 14:49 IST