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Pakistan proposes joint mechanism to probe Mumbai attack

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | December 02, 2008 17:29 IST

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Close on the heels of the US asking it to lend "absolute" cooperation to New Delhi [Images] over the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan  proposed on Tuesday, the formation of a joint investigating mechanism with India to probe the deadly terror strikes that have sparked tension in bilateral ties.
    
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the offer during a brief broadcast on the state-run PTV.
    
He said terrorists "must not be allowed to undo the gains made" in the composite dialogue process towards confidence building between the two sides.
    
Qureshi' remarks came a day after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images], who is set to visit India on Wednesday, said in London [Images] that she did not want to jump to any conclusions on who is involved in the attacks "but this is time for a complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation and that is what we expect (from Pakistan)."
    
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 [Images] is "ready to extend a hand of cooperation" and assist "in every way" in tracing the perpetrators of the strikes.
    
Qureshi proposed the formation of a "joint investigating mechanism and a joint commission". Pakistan is ready to "compose a team to help India" in the investigations, he said. "Who is the enemy? We have to cooperate to overcome the menace and Pakistan is ready for that," he said in Urdu.
    
Qureshi also said: "I would like to tell the people that there is no cause for worry. The government and armed forces
of Pakistan are united and capable of defending the country's borders, territory and interests."

The Pakistan government's stand is "balanced, measured and conciliatory" and both countries must show "seriousness and cooperation," Qureshi said, adding there should be "no blame-game or finger-pointing" as the current situation does
not allow it.
    
A Foreign Office statement said Qureshi had spoken of the proposal to form a joint investigating mechanism during a
meeting with envoys of UN's P-5 countries, European Union members and a select group of other nations to brief them on Pakistan's position regarding the Mumbai attacks.
    
"Pakistan has proposed to India that a Pakistan-India Joint Commission, suitably composed, be set up to work together on the Mumbai incident.The Commission could be co-chaired by the National Security Advisors of the two countries and meet as early as possible for exchange of information and discussions on mutual cooperation in this regard," the statement said.
    
Pakistan believes that both sides should work together to reduce tension and continue our constructive engagement in a
comprehensive manner, Qureshi told the envoys.
    
He said the two countries had made "significant progress in the composite dialogue process towards confidence
building".
    
"Terrorists must not be allowed to undo the gains made. We are convinced that continuation of the peace process and
the composite dialogue is in the larger interest of the people of the two countries."

The statement said: "While the government of Pakistan stands ready to extend its full cooperation, both sides must
avoid blame game and hostile propaganda, which only works to the advantage of the terrorists in their nefarious designs.
    
"Allegations by Indian media about complicity of Pakistan in the Mumbai incident are strongly refuted." Qureshi also told the envoys that Pakistan had condemned the terrorist attacks "in the strongest possible terms" and reiterated "the assurances of our utmost cooperation and assistance to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act of terrorism to justice".
    
Describing terrorism as a "major challenge of our times", he said both Pakistan and India "have suffered from
indiscriminate violence. Pakistan and India must enhance their coordination and cooperation in combating terrorism whether perpetrated by individuals, groups or non-state actors. Serious, sustained and pragmatic engagement that is multi-tiered and comprehensive is warranted," he said.




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