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Pak will not handover any Pakistanis to India: Zardari

By Hari Krishnan

Lahore, Dec 14: Reiterating that Pakistan would not hand over any of its citizens to India for interrogation in connection with last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai and that New Delhi has shared 'very little information' with Islamabad on the incident, President Asif Ali Zardari also said on Saturday, Dec 13 night that there were no links between the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

In an interview to America's Newsweek magazine, Zardari said: "Something [that happened] in the old days when dictators used to run the country. Maybe before 9/11, that may have been a position. [But] since then, things have changed to a great extent".

He said the group had now been banned in Pakistan, but such groups "keep re-emerging in different forms". "Whenever there is actionable intelligence, we move in before anyone else does," he said.

He said that his late wife and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and he had always believed that intelligence agencies had nothing to do with politics.

"Since I have been in government, we've had a stated position that ISI has no political role anymore," he said, and denied that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had asked Pakistan to arrest 'some people', particularly former ISI head Lt. Gen. (retired) Hamid Gul.

"She is a friend and she knows Pakistan is a responsible state, and the Americans and the British know how much my government has done for this operation," Zardari told Newsweek.

Gul was "definitely not in our good books", he said, but added the retired general was not accused in the Mumbai terrorist attacks last month.

"He is more of a political ideologue of terror rather than a physical supporter," the president said.

The Indians "have given us very little information" on the probe into the Mumbai attacks, Zardari told the magazine, but added that if elements in Pakistan were found involved, Pakistan would take action against them.

"Not for them, it's for myself . . . The Indians must understand that the government and the people of Pakistan are net losers of the situation. We had put in a lot of effort . . . to make good relations with India." He said there were reports Russia had told the Indians about the attack, "but I wish the Russians had also shared it with us," he said.

Asked if he thought his government could shut down the Lashkar, , Zardari said: "Nobody will be allowed to use Pakistan soil for any form of aggression toward any friend or foe."


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