Promising not to tolerate extremists using his country as a base to attack India, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has urged Washington to help ease tensions with its neighbour. But he also sought more evidence about Laskar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) before acting against the Pakistan based group blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 persons.
Pakistan had banned Let and frozen their bank accounts, Gilani told reporters Monday confirming that President Barack Obama had raised the issue of action against LeT relaying concerns from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“If we have more effective evidence, certainly they will be brought to justice,” he added. “We don’t want our soil used against any country and neither would we allow somebody else’s soil to be used against Pakistan,” Gilani said.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had Sunday told reporters Manmohan Singh had stressed the need for Pakistan to take convincing action against those accused for involvement in the Mumbai attacks when Obama said he favoured the reduction of tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad.
“President Obama discussed with me that he really wants … good relations (between India and Pakistan) and certainly it is in everybody’s interests to play a role, whatever they can play, to bring Pakistan and India closer,” Gilani said.
Asked whether he would meet Manmohan Singh in Washington on the margins of the nuclear security summit, Gilani said: “It is not scheduled at the moment.”
Gilani repeated a plea for an India type civil nuclear deal saying, “We believe that the objectives of nuclear nonproliferation would be better served if the policy of nondiscrimination is adopted across the globe for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”
India needed to “look beyond Mumbai,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters later. “Mumbai was sad, Mumbai was tragic and should not have happened. But we are as much victims of terrorism as Indians are.”
Asked what role Washington could play in the peace process, he said: “To nudge us together and to facilitate the process.”
“The more ease we have on the eastern front (with India), the better equipped we are to deal with the western front (Afghanistan).”
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh means well. We have no doubt about that,” Qureshi said. “But the problem is that he has not been able to carry domestic politics along within the Congress Party and the BJP,” he said suggesting both the ruling party and the opposition were not supportive of the Indian leader in reaching out to Pakistan.
The BJP “has been very hawkish on him, I think unfair to him, and unfair to the region because… coexistence is the most sensible way forward,” Qureshi said.