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We can't guarantee no repeat of 26/11 in India: Pak PM

January 22, 2010 15:48 IST

Pakistan, which is experiencing 'Mumbai-like attacks almost every other day', cannot guarantee that there will not be a repeat of the 26/11 strikes in India, Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has told the United States.

"Pakistan is itself facing Mumbai-like attacks almost every other day and when we cannot protect our own citizens, how can we guarantee that there wouldn't be any more terrorist hits in India," Gilani was quoted by a source in the media as having told visiting US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates on Thursday.

Gilani said the best safeguard against such incidents is de-linking the bilateral peace process from action against terrorism.

The Dawn newspaper reported that the Pakistan prime minister told Gates about the steps taken against militant groups, saying they had been outlawed and their network disrupted.

In an apparent reference to Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the Mumbai attacks, Gilani said his government could not prosecute anyone without evidence.

He also sought 'even-handedness' by the US in its dealings with Pakistan and India, the daily reported.

An official statement issued by the prime minister's office said Pakistan-India relations had figured in Gilani's discussions with Gates, but did not specify whether the Premier had said Islamabad could not guarantee there would not be more Mumbai-like attacks.

The statement quoted Gilani as saying, "Pakistan is committed to peace in the region and, in this context, this government is making sincere efforts to resume the composite dialogue process with India."

While in India, Gates had warned that Pakistan-based militants with links to Al Qaeda were planning strikes in India with the hope that retaliation would lead to a new conflict between the two countries. Gates also said that New Delhi might not show any more restraint.

According to the official statement, Gilani "regretted that the response from (India) has not been encouraging."

"The relations between India and Pakistan should not become hostage to the activities of terrorists which (are) the common enemy. For lasting peace in the region, both countries should resolve the core issues, including Kashmir and water dispute," he said.

India put the composite dialogue with Pakistan on hold in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks. It has linked the resumption of the peace process to Pakistan taking action against the perpetrators of the terrorist assault.

Though JuD chief Saeed was placed under house arrest shortly after the Mumbai attacks in 2008, he was freed on the orders of the Lahore high court last year.

The government is yet to challenge his release in the Supreme Court despite a pledge to do so.

Contrary to Gilani's statements during his meeting with Gates, the Pakistan government has not issued any formal notification banning the JuD, which has been declared a front for the outlawed Lashkar-e-Tayiba by the United Nations Security Council.

Rezaul H Laskar In Islamabad
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