Pakistan seeks closure of ‘terror cells’ in India


Islamabad/New Delhi/Washington : Apparently opening up a new front, Pakistan’s parliament has urged the world community to press India for closing what it terms terror cells and to stop its anti-Pakistan “propaganda” in the wake of the Mumbai carnage.

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A resolution, moved by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Ahmad in the National Assembly (NA) Wednesday “has urged the global community to press India to close terror hubs and stop anti-Pakistan propaganda”, The News reported on its website.

The resolution also said that Pakistan wants peace and stability in the region and the end of tension with India.

“The resolution stated that Mumbai attacks reflected the failure of Indian intelligence; therefore, India should stop blaming Pakistan,” The News said.

The assembly session was adjourned after passing the resolution.

In New Delhi, it was announced that India will seek Saudi Arabia’s support in putting pressure on Pakistan to act against terror outfits during Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal’s daylong visit to the Indian capital Friday.

In his meeting with his Saudi counterpart, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will share information that establishes a clear link between Pakistan-based elements and the Mumbai terror attacks, official sources said.

Mukherjee is also likely to invoke transformed ties between India and Saudi Arabia following King Abdullah’s visit to New Delhi in 2006 and seek Riyadh’s support in putting pressure on Islamabad to take concrete action against anti-India terror outfits in that country.

New Delhi will seek Riyadh’s support in clamping down on the financing of terrorists some of whom use Saudi charities and other fronts for generating funds for subversive activities. The issue will figure in the discussions between the two ministers, the sources said.

With Pakistan stepping up its propaganda offensive against India in the Muslim world, India is likely to draw attention to reports in sections of Saudi media that have been critical of New Delhi but sympathetic to Islamabad.

Meanwhile, former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said he would personally request President Asif Ali Zardari to take “stern action” if India furnished evidence of the involvement of Pakistani territory in the Mumbai attacks that claimed at least 170 lives, 26 of them foreigners.

Speaking at a Christmas cake-cutting ceremony at the Punjab Chief Minister’s Secretariat at Lahore Tuesday, “he believed the Pakistan government had no link to the blasts”, The News reported Wednesday.

Sharif, whose brother Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of the Punjab province, also “warned” the Indian and Pakistani leaderships against making “irresponsible statements” as this would “further aggravate the situation”.

“He said if the Indian government did not have any evidence, then it should avoid creating tensions in the region through fake allegations,” The News reported.

Sharif maintained that “it would be better for the future of both countries” to resolve their differences through dialogue, adding that Pakistan wanted friendly and peaceful relations with India and was committed to helping India in hunting down the perpetrators of the Mumbai outrage.

Pakistani senators have also urged a review of the country’s role in the war on terror and even suggested the redeployment of troops from the Afghanistan border in the light of heightened tensions with India.

“Taking part in the discussion (Tuesday) on the security situation, they underlined the need for launching a diplomatic initiative to tell the world that Pakistan was a responsible country and expose ‘baseless allegations’ being hurled by India in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage,” Dawn reported Wednesday.

“They rejected as a cock and bull story the claim by India that a group of 10 people had travelled on a boat from Karachi to reach Mumbai for carrying out the attack,” the newspaper added.

On his part, the US defence chief has admitted that the Mumbai terror attacks have jeopardised operations against the Taliban in the remote parts of Pakistan.

The attacks were a tactical operation that had strategic effects, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told reporters on the flight home after a visit to Pakistan.

It placed progress against Taliban extremists using safe havens in Pakistan’s remote areas in jeopardy, he said.

Before the attack in Mumbai, the Pakistani government began operations in Bajaur on the border with Afghanistan, Mullen pointed out.

During his trip, Mullen met top military and intelligence officials in Pakistan including army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha and apparently discussed the Mumbai atatcks.

“It was a good, positive meeting, and it continues our relationship,” Mullen said, according to a report on the US defence department website. “I’m not going to get into specifics of what we discussed, but I am encouraged.”

US officials believe extremists from the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba used the safe havens along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, to finance, plan and train for the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attack.