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Pakistan Offers to Help Investigate Mumbai Terror Attack


Pakistan has offered a joint investigation into terror attacks in Mumbai, after India blamed elements in Pakistan for planning the deadly violence. From Islamabad, Ayaz Gul reports senior government officials also say they will "frame a response" to New Delhi's demand that Pakistan hand over 20 fugitives from Indian law who are allegedly hiding in Pakistan.

Pakistan has denied involvement of the country's intelligence agencies in the Mumbai attacks, describing them as "barbaric acts." It has vowed to work with India to bring those involved to justice.

In a televised address to Pakistani citizens, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reiterated that position, saying it is not the time for finger-pointing.

Mr. Qureshi said the Pakistani government has offered a joint investigating mechanism and a joint commission to New Delhi to help probe the militant assault on Mumbai. He reiterated that Pakistan wants good relations with India.

The foreign minister told Pakistanis they have no reason to worry because the government and the country's armed forces are united and capable of defending Pakistan.

Mr. Qureshi did not refer to a statement by his counterpart in India, Pranab Mukherjee, that New Delhi has demanded Islamabad handover about 20 fugitives it believes are hiding in Pakistan.

The list of men wanted in India reportedly included Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai underworld leader, and Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of an outlawed Pakistan-based Islamic group. Both the men are blamed for planning previous terrorist attacks in India.

Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters the government is preparing a response to the Indian demand.

"We have to look at it formally once we receive it and we will frame a response to that," Rehman said. "We must try to dampen down the discourse of conflict and work towards regional peace."

In an interview to an Indian television station, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said terrorism is a common enemy and both countries need to jointly fight it.

"If they are facing the same problem and we are facing the same problem, and if we go into a blame game those people will be rewarded who have done this (Mumbai attacks) action," Gilani said. "Therefore we should have mutual cooperation to jointly fight against extremism."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gilani has convened a meeting of leaders of all the political parties in the country to discuss rising tensions with India. The Islamabad meeting is expected to devise a national consensus on how to defuse the crisis and help India investigate the Mumbai attacks.




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