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Islamabad hopes peace moves will prevail: Any aggression to be repelled

January 03, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Jan 2: President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of handing over any Pakistani national accused of carrying out terrorist attacks to the Indian authorities.

“The question of handing over anybody to India does not arise,” President Pervez Musharraf observed at a joint meeting of the National Security Council and federal cabinet, Information Secretary Anwer Mehmood later told reporters.

Mr Mehmood quoted the president as saying that action would certainly be taken if a credible and satisfactory evidence was provided to Pakistan.

The government, he said, was ready to consider such evidence and try those found involved in the Dec 13 attack on the Indian Parliament.

“President Musharraf remarked that Pakistan wants peace, but with honour and dignity,” Mr Mehmood said.

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Aziz briefed the meeting about the contingency plans of Pakistan Army and the deployment of Indian troops, which, he said, were in advance offensive position.

The meeting was also apprised about the movement of Indian Air Force and Navy, mechanized corps and redeployment of Indian eastern corps at the border with Pakistan. The meeting also noted reports of massive exercises to be conducted by the Indian Army close to Pakistan’s borders from next week.

“All the likely scenarios were discussed in detail,” he added. Besides Gen Aziz, presentations were also made by Foreign Secretary Inamul Haque and cabinet secretary.

President, he said, reiterated Pakistan’s desire of peace, de-escalation of tension and normalization of relations with India and reaffirmed resolve to respond strongly to any aggression.

“All steps have been taken to defend and safeguard the country. Should a mistake be made of attacking Pakistan, a befitting response will be given and offenders will repent their decision,” he added.

The meeting, he added, was informed that armed forces were prepared to defend the country on ground, on sea and in air.

Pakistan, he said, would not attack first but in case of aggression its armed forces were in a position to inflict damages which the enemy would not like to bear.

The president took the meeting into confidence about his frequent contacts with the world leaders.

As regard diplomatic initiative to resolve the situation, he said Pakistan was firm in its policy of resolving the issues with India through talks.

Earlier in the day, the president presided over meeting of an inter-provincial committee on law and order. The issue of bringing the religious schools into mainstream education system on voluntary basis was also on the agenda of the meeting.

Mr Mehmood said the meeting chalked out a comprehensive policy to address the issue of extremism and sectarianism in the country.

The national policy for developing a tolerant society, free of all sorts of extremism and hatred would be further reviewed on Jan 8, before announcement by the president possibly in a televised address to the nation, he said.

Without giving details of the policy, he said the provincial governors and police officials present in the meeting also gave their input.

The deliberations on the issue of extremism and sectarianism in the country lasted for four hours and a number of decisions had been taken which would be incorporated in the proposed national policy, he added.