Islamabad/New Delhi, Dec.3 ): Pakistan has said that Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's warning that India will exercise its military options if its territorial integrity is compromised, will not help in toning down tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours.
Mukherjee told NDTV in an interview that India is not ruling out the option of military strikes against terror camps in Pakistan. He also said that every country has the right to protect its territorial integrity and take appropriate action when necessary, adding that continuing the peace process with Pakistan in the present circumstances is difficult.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has responded by saying that such statements will only aggravate the situation in South Asia.
"We want to defuse the situation. We do not want such exchange of statements. These statements will only spiral the situation out of control," said Qureshi.
The two statements come as the international community is putting pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the Lashkar-e-Taiba's reported headquarters in Muridke outside Lahore.
On Tuesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani chaired an all-party meeting on national security to discuss the developing tensions with India in the wake of the Mumbai attacks and evolve a consensus on how to deal with the situation.
At present, the Indian Government is not thinking of a military option, choosing to await Pakistan's response to a demarche issued by the External Affairs Ministry that demands action against terrorist groups and individuals operating out of that country.
Mukherjee told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the India-Arab Forum in New Delhi that nobody is talking about military action.
He said New Delhi had handed over a list of 20 fugitive terrorists wanted by it to Pakistan, which includes Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Mohammad, Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and 1993 Mumbai serial blast prime accused Dawood Ibrahim.
The demarche was handed over to Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik.
The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has also said that New Delhi will not tolerate use of territories by its neighbours for launching attacks on India and that there will be a cost to it. Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterji said that India is determined to root out terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
In a related development, the Navy Chief Admiral Suresh Mehta has said that systemic and intelligence failure led to the terror strike in Mumbai.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has asked Pakistan to fully cooperate in the ongoing investigations of the brutal Mumbai terror strikes. She told the media in London that it is incumbent on Pakistan to realise the seriousness of what has happened.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi has proposed the formation of a joint investigating mechanism with India to probe the deadly Mumbai terror strikes. Qureshi made the offer during a brief broadcast on the state-run PTV.
Responding to India's demarche seeking action by Pakistan against elements linked to the terror attacks in Mumbai that killed nearly 200 people, Qureshi said Islamabad is ready to extend a hand of cooperation and assist in every way in tracing the perpetrators of the strikes.
Asked about India's demand for the handing over of 20 wanted terrorists, Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters,"We have to look at it formally once we receive it (list of terrorists) and we will frame a response to that."