Zardari offers India unconditional help
ISLAMABAD, Dec 1: President Asif Ali Zardari again offered on Monday unconditional cooperation to New Delhi to investigate the Mumbai carnage after the Indian government formally accused elements in Pakistan of being involved in the incident.
In response to allegations by the Indian media that there was a possibility that the banned Jehadi outfit Lashkar-i-Taiba was involved in Mumbai attacks, the president said security forces were already fighting the same and many other groups in the "war on terror", sources close to Mr Zardari told Dawn.
He warned that provocation by rogue "non-state actors" had posed a danger of war between the two countries.
In his continued efforts to bring relations with India to normality, the president remained engaged on diplomatic and political fronts and he met Prince Karim Aga Khan and contacted some world leaders by telephone.
During the meeting with Prince Aga Khan, he said Pakistan was ready to cooperate with India in investigation into the Mumbai attacks, but feared that statements being made by New Delhi could damage relations.
The Aga Khan said both countries should show patience and continue the process of dialogue.??In an interview with The Financial Times, Mr Zardari warned India against escalating tensions and said any confrontation would be disastrous for the war on terror because this would sap Pakistan’s efforts against militants on the Afghan border.
"The architects of this calamity in Mumbai have managed to raise a threat on our other (eastern) borders. As we have these people (militants) on the run along our western borders (with Afghanistan), our attention is being diverted at this critical time," the president told the paper on telephone.
In reply to a question about India’s allegation that "the two dozen terrorists who had killed some 200 people in Mumbai belonged to Lashkar-i-Taiba", Mr Zardari said security forces had already been fighting militants linked to the outfit.??"We live in troubled times where non-state actors have taken us to war before, whether it is the case of those who perpetrated 9/11 attacks on the US or contributed to the escalation of the situation in Iraq."
Emphasising the need for cooperation between Pakistan and India to fight terrorism, the president said: "Now, events in Mumbai tell us that there are ongoing efforts to carry out copycat attacks by militants. We must all stand together to fight out this menace."According to Financial Times, Pakistan is worried that suspected foreign involvement in terror attacks in Mumbai would lead to a sharp deterioration of relations with India. Deepening hostility between the two adversaries could lead Pakistan to defend its border with India more heavily, the newspaper added.
GORDON CALLS ZARDARI
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called President Zardari and offered his government’s assistance to help reduce tension between India and Pakistan. They discussed the situation in the region and bilateral ties.
China has also assured Pakistan of moral, financial and material support in tackling the Mumbai fallout. In a message, the Chinese government said that it would assist Pakistan in any situation to overcome problems and challenges.
Sources close to the president said the Chinese leadership was in constant touch with Pakistan to know the nature of assistance the latter requires and ensure its immediate availability.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani received a telephone call from his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, who extended support to Pakistan in facing the situation.
On the political front, almost all major political parties have expressed willingness to take part in a multi-party conference called by the prime minister on national security on Tuesday.