Islamabad, Dec.9 (ANI): Pakistan's Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said even if allegations are proved against any so-called terrorist suspect, he or she will not be handed over to India.
"We are not oblivious to our responsibilities to defend our homeland. But it is our desire that there should be no war. Pakistan will not hand India any of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militants arrested on Sunday for they're suspected role in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, but will try them under its own laws."
"The arrests are being made for our own investigations. Even if allegations are proved against any suspect, he will not be handed over to India. We will proceed against those arrested under Pakistani laws," The Times quoted him, as reiterating.
He also said Pakistan is fully prepared for war with India, if it is imposed and inevitable.
Speaking a day after Pakistani officials revealed that security forces had arrested the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks and at least seven other suspects in a raid on a Lashkar training camp in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, Qureshi said: "We do not want to impose war, but we are fully prepared in case war is imposed on us."
There was no immediate official response from India, but Indian officials and analysts have said they did not expect Pakistan's weak civilian government to extradite the suspects for fear of provoking a domestic political backlash.
Sunday's raid was the first action taken by the Pakistani Government in response to pressure from India and the United States to crackdown on the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which reportedly has close links to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, following the Mumbai attacks.
"This is an intelligence-led operation against banned militant outfits and organizations," the military said in a statement last night. "There have been arrests and investigations are on."
Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's President, said the raid showed that Pakistan was committed to taking "action against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers".
"To foil the designs of the terrorists, the two great nations of Pakistan and India ... must continue to move forward with the peace process," he wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times.
The United States welcomed the arrests as a positive step. "What's critically important now is that we continue to work together - the Indians, the Pakistanis, the United States, and our allies - to prevent follow-on attacks after the attacks in Mumbai," said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman. (ANI)