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February 19, 2002
1945 IST

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What did Sheikh Omar say, India asks Pakistan

Stepping up its diplomatic offensive, India on Tuesday asked Pakistan to provide information on the involvement of Sheikh Omar Saeed, a key suspect in the abduction of an American reporter, in the terrorist attacks on Parliament and the Jammu and Kashmir assembly last year.

Pakistan's Deputy High Commissioner Jalil Abbas Jilani was summoned to the external affairs ministry and told that Islamabad should comply with New Delhi's request on the basis of international laws and the widespread consensus to fight terrorism.

The U N Security Council resolution 1373, adopted after the September 11 terror strikes in the United States, and other international obligations mandate all states to afford greatest measure of assistance in connection with criminal investigations or proceedings relating to terrorist acts, an external affairs ministry spokesperson said.

Sheikh Omar, arrested in connection with the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, reportedly confessed his involvement in the December 13 terrorist attack on Parliament and the October 1 strike on the J&K assembly in Srinagar.

Asked about Jilani's response, she said the Pakistani diplomat had informed that he would convey India's request to his government. Jilani also referred to a Pakistan foreign office statement refuting Sheikh Omar's claims.

The spokesperson said Jalani was told that India was seeking disclosures made by the Jaish-e-Mohammed leader on the basis of its own information and Pakistani media reports.

On his involvement in the December 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar, the spokesperson said the terrorist, who was released from jail along with two others in exchange for the lives of the passengers, was involved in 13 cases, which were dropped against him at that time.

Sheikh Omar moved into Pakistan from Kandahar (where the plane was hijacked to) with the knowledge of Pakistani authorities, she said, adding that perpetrators of terrorist acts must be brought to justice.

Replying to questions, she said India had not sought his deportation.

To another question that Islamabad had not complied with New Delhi's demand for handing over 20 terrorists and criminals, she asked: "Does it mean that we give up on that?"

India, she said, sought meaningful action from all countries to deal with such issues.

On the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan, the spokesperson said that dates for yearly review of the accord this year would be firmed up through the diplomatic channel. It was reviewed in May last year.

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