Pakistan proposes joint probe

Published Dec 03, 2008 12:00am

ISLAMABAD, Dec 2: Pakistan on Tuesday proposed a joint mechanism with India to investigate the Mumbai carnage as part of its offer of complete cooperation in efforts to unearth “the hands behind the dastardly act”.

The proposal was made at a briefing by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to foreign diplomats a day before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice begins her visit to the region.

Diplomatic sources said the offer had been conveyed to India in response to a demarche handed over to Pakistan’s High Commissioner in New Delhi Shahid Malik by the Indian external affairs ministry.

Pakistan is yet to respond to the second demarche delivered by Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal at the Foreign Office here. According to diplomats, the demarche is more specific.

At the briefing attended by diplomats from the European Union, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and some other countries, the foreign minister said: “Pakistan has proposed to India that a Pakistan-India joint commission, suitably composed, be set up to work together on the Mumbai incident.”

He said the commission could be jointly headed by the national security advisers of both the countries and it should meet at the earliest to exchange information relating to the incident and discuss details of cooperation.

He said the two countries must enhance their cooperation in combating terrorism perpetrated by individuals, groups or non-state actors.

“Serious, sustained and pragmatic engagement that is multi-tiered and comprehensive is warranted.”

Mr Qureshi said both sides should work together to reduce tension and continue their constructive engagement in a comprehensive manner.

He cautioned India against allowing terrorists “to undo the gains made” in the ‘composite dialogue’.

He stressed the need for avoiding hostile propaganda and said it would only work to the advantage of terrorists.

The minister acknowledged that the peace process between the two countries was strained, but expressed the hope that the initiative would continue.

Later, speaking on the PTV, the minister said: “I will like to tell the people of Pakistan that there is no cause for worry. The government and armed forces of Pakistan are united and capable of defending the country’s borders and interests.”

He said Pakistan’s response to the crisis was “balanced, measured and conciliatory” and both countries must show seriousness in cooperating to deal with terrorism. “Both Pakistan and India have suffered from indiscriminate violence.”

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