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December 19, 2001
2358 IST

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Hand over terrorists to India: Advani to Pak

Home Minister L K Advani on Wednesday asked Pakistan to hand over to India terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and others involved in terror strikes in the country to prove its credibility in fighting the menace.

Advani also renewed New Delhi's proposal for an extradition treaty with Islamabad.

Replying to a marathon two-day debate on Thursday's terrorist attack on Parliament, the home minister allayed apprehensions of opposition members about the safety of minorities and asserted the fight against terrorism had nothing to do with any religion.

Maintaining that it would be very difficult to normalise relations with Pakistan if it continued to sponsor cross-border terrorism and proxy war in India, Advani said New Delhi would have to look for 'some other ways' to combat the evil.

With the attack on Parliament, the Pakistan-based terrorist groups have crossed all limits, he said, adding the government would have to consider whether it should continue to pursue the existing line of action to deal with the problem or adopt a new strategy.

The home minister said the fight against terrorism should never be construed as one between Hindus and Muslim or even India and Pakistan.

"It will be wrong to think that way. This would only weaken India. The country has 150 to 160 million Muslim brethren who enjoy equal status. They should not feel insecure," he said adding the battle against terror is between civilisation and barbarism, and democracy and terrorism.

At the same time, Advani said Saudi extremist Osama bin Laden had become a symbol of terrorism and anybody eulogising him would be committing a disservice to the nation.

Rejecting the 'Two-nation theory', the home minister said he had told Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf during the Agra summit that Jammu and Kashmir, despite being a Muslim majority state, was very much a part of India.

Advani lashed out at Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar for stating that the attack on Parliament was aimed at defaming the 'freedom struggle' in J&K.

"One would have expected a genuine change of heart after Pakistan joined the international coalition against terrorism. But with Sattar's statement, it does not appear so," he said.

He said Pakistan dubbing terrorism in J&K as 'freedom struggle' was one of the key factors for the failure of the Agra summit.

Demanding that Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, which masterminded the attack on Parliament House, and 1993 Mumbai blast kingpin Dawood Ibrahim and others be handed over to India, Advani said, "This can be the basis on which (Pakistan's) honesty against terrorism is going to be judged."

He ridiculed Islamabad for calling the five terrorists who struck Parliament as 'armed intruders'.

Contending that India sought a stable friendship with Pakistan, Advani said the prime minister's Lahore initiative in February 1999 was a major step in this direction.

Rejecting the opposition charge that India found itself isolated in the international community, he said on the contrary there had been widespread condemnation of the terror strike and full support extended to New Delhi's efforts to deal with the situation.

He said besides the United States, Russia, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and other countries, China too has strongly condemned the terrorist act and added terrorism cannot be justified on any ground.

The minister made it clear that 'we will be indulging in self-deception if we think that our fight against terrorism will be fought for us by others. We have to fight it on our own'.

PTI

Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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