Pakistan renews offer of assistance to India

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Islamabad, Nov 29: Pakistan's government today offered unconditional support and assistance to India to expose the perpetrators of coordinated terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

The offer was made in a special meeting of the Federal Cabinet, which was held here under the chairmanship Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to condemn the mayhem in Mumbai.

The meeting was held hours after Pakistan reserved its decision to send ISI chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha to India to help the Indian authorities in the investigation of Mumbai attacks, as earlier promised by premier Gilani during a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The decision to not send ISI chief was taken at a meeting between President Asif Zardari, Premier Gilani and Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani.

''The people and all state institutions of Pakistan stands united against terrorism and extend their fully moral and material support to the Indian government and the Indian people,'' Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a press conference after the Cabinet meeting.

He said the terrorism is a common threat to both the nations and ''we stand shoulder to shoulder to the Indian people to defeat this common enemy and menace''.

Mr Qureshi said the government of Pakistan attaches highest importance to friendly and good neighbourly relations with India and feels that good relations were essential for regional peace and stability.

The Cabinet unanimously condemned the barbaric act of terrorism in Mumbai and offered its condolences to the Indian government and the people of India and the bereaved families.

The Foreign Minister said Pakistan will stand by India in this difficult time and also expressed anguish over the incident.

He said his country is fully committed to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestation because they were also victims of terrorism.

The Cabinet decided to take the entire political leadership of the country into confidence on the evolving situation.

The Foreign Minister said the Cabinet feels that finger pointing or coming to hasty conclusion would mean playing into hands of common enemy was the terrorists. He said the Cabinet appealed to the people of Pakistan to maintain unity in this challenging times. It also resolved that national interest would remain supreme in all decisions of the government.

The Federal Cabinet, in its meeting, discussed in detail the evolving situation after the Mumbai attacks.

The Foreign Minister returned from New Delhi this morning and gave an in-camera briefing to the Cabinet. He said in his interaction with the media, during his stay in India, he was able to give Pakistan's point of view on the horrific incident.

Mr Qureshi said the government and all the institutions were unanimous in defending the interest of the country.

''There may be different shades of opinion but when it comes to national integrity and national security, we are all one to safeguard the interests of Pakistan,'' he added.

He said the Government would put across its point of view before political leadership both in and outside parliament so as to be ready for any eventuality.

Mr Qureshi told a questioner that there was complete harmony between his Government and the armed forces and they were in consultation on the latest situation.

He said Pakistan stands for peace but the nation and its armed forces were ever ready to defend the country.

He categorically rejected the idea that Pakistan was involved in this ghastly action.

The Foreign Minister said the Indian Government has not implicated the Government of Pakistan and it only suspects that perhaps some groups or organisation might be involved.

He said after the incident, he remained for three days in India and have been interacting with the leadership there.

Mr Qureshi said the Government of India had requested for cooperation in this incident. He, however, made it clear that Indians have not sought immediate cooperation as they themselves have no clear of idea of what was happened.

He said it is in the interest of both Pakistan and India to lower the tension and avoid blame game. He said instead of mud-slinging they would have to rise to the occasion and join hands to deal with the menace of terrorism.

Asked why the Government felt it necessary to convene a special Cabinet meeting on the issue, Mr Qureshi said it is a serious situation and Indians feels it is 9/11 for them.

He said being a responsible elected Government, they cannot remain oblivious to the seriousness of the situation.

UNI

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