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Pak. not to act against LeT, JeM

Pak. not to act against LeT, JeM

Author: B. Muralidhar Reddy
Publication: The Hindu
Date: December 29, 2001

Pakistan today made it clear that it had no intention of proceeding against the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad - accused by India as the main culprits behind the December 13 attack on Parliament - despite the decision of the United States to declare them as terrorist.

The Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson, Mr. Aziz Khan, and the Press Secretary to the Pakistan President, Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, asserted that India had not provided a "shred of evidence" of the involvement of the two outfits and Islamabad would not act against them without evidence.

On whether Pakistan would follow the example of the U.S. and ban LeT and JeM, Mr. Khan said the U.S. ban was applicable within that country and had nothing to do with the December 13 attack. Pakistan would take action against the outfits only if there was evidence of any undesirable activities by them.

"The United States action is applicable within the territory of the U.S. As far as Pakistan is concerned, every group and organisation is under scrutiny and under watch. If we find any evidence against any individual or group or organisation indulging in any undesirable activities, action against will be taken".

Maj. Gen. Qureshi also discounted reports that the U.S. had forwarded evidence of the involvement of the two groups in the December 13 attack. "No evidence at all has been provided from anyone or group. I do not think there is any relationship between the action taken against these two groups by the U.S. and what happened at the Indian Parliament", he said.

Asked about the complaint of the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh, that Pakistan had not taken any action against the outfits, Mr. Khan said, "Pakistan, from day one, has asked India to provide evidence to support the charges. Hurling charges is not enough".

Pakistan promised to take action based on the evidence. "Where is the evidence," he said, adding that it was not fair to declare someone as accused and ask him to prove his innocence.

On the action being taken against JeM, Maj. Gen. Qureshi said action was taken for the group's involvement in sectarian strife in Pakistan. "It has nothing to do with Indian allegations".

About 20 Jaish activists including the outfit's leader, Maulana Masood Azhar had been arrested. Five Kalashnikov rifles, two pistols and two rifles were recovered from them. "Frankly I am not aware of actions being taken against Azhar. He is under preventive detention", he said. Action against the group was taken on the information that they had unauthorised weapons, Maj. Gen. Qureshi added.

To a query, Mr. Khan said the U.S. was engaged diplomatically, both with Pakistan and India, to defuse tension.

Gen. Qureshi said several world leaders were in touch with Gen. Musharraf, and claimed that there was total understanding of Pakistan's point of view and its stated position.

On the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani's reported allegation that the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi was engaged in espionage, Mr. Khan said Pakistan rejected all such charges. Pakistan adhered to the Geneva Convention of Diplomatic Relations and was mindful of its diplomatic responsibilities.

Gen. Qureshi said by deploying troops as well as surface-to-surface missiles, the Indian Government was painting itself into a corner from where it would be difficult for it to "back off". Pakistan was continuing maximum restraint but the Musharraf Government would ensure that Pakistan retained its capability for reciprocal action depending on what the Indian armed forces or Government did.

Stating that Pakistan had deployed only such forces that ensured its defence, he said any excess deployment was seen as a threat by the other side. The military concentration and deployment seemed to be a desire on the part of the Indian Government to attain the capability of offensive action.

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