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Pak must hand over Saeed to improve ties: BJP

April 14, 2012 18:38 IST

Until Pakistan hands over Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz Saeed to India bitterness in ties between the two countries cannot end, Bharatiya Janata Party said on Saturday.

"We favour better India-Pakistan relations, but want the neighbouring nation to address the core issue of terror that includes handing over Hafiz Saeed and others responsible for

Mumbai terror attacks," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told a news conference in Chandigarh.

Hussain said Saeed was "enjoying patronage of ISI and Pakistan army, and was giving anti-India statements without any fear".

"Talk of better relations with India when Pakistan is extending patronage to a person like Saeed cannot go hand-in-hand. Pakistan must hand him over to us along with others whose names figure in the 'list of wanted' India has given to them. We believe till then, bitterness that is there in our relations cannot end," he said.

On Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's one-day visit to India last week, India had linked the progress in bilateral ties with Pakistan to taking action against Hafiz Saeed and others, he said.

Hussain said taking steps to improve trade relations with Pakistan would no doubt benefit people on the both sides, "but till the time core issue of terrorism is not addressed, overall relations cannot become better".

When asked about Sarabjit Singh, Indian prisoner on death row in Pakistan, Hussain said BJP demands efforts in this regard at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's level.

If Saeed is handed over and Sarabjit is released by Pakistan, then it will bring some improvement in the relations.

On the Lokpal Bill, the BJP leader said his party was committed to a strong bill, but wants amendments of the NDA incorporated.

Responding to a question on Team Anna key member Arvind Kerjiwal, Hussain said any person saying that he respects the Parliament, "but at the same time casts aspersions on the parliamentarians is unacceptable".

"Parliament is not just a building of concrete built during the British time. Parliament is an institution where people send their elected representatives and should be respected," he said, adding to term all as "rapists and thieves is not fair".

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