India has not demanded the arrest of Jamaat-d-awah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and the issue did not even figure at the Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan last month, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Saturday.
“You will be surprised that they made no demand (for the arrest of Saeed). They did not even mention Hafiz Saeed in the entire talks,” Mr. Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan.
He was responding to a question on whether India had demanded Saeed’s arrest.
Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit had told a briefing on Thursday that India had not asked for the handing over of Saeed, who is also the founder of the Lashker-e-Taiba.
India has described Saeed as the mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Following talks with her Pakistani counterpart last month, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said that Pakistan should take action against persons like Saeed and control their activities.
Mr. Qureshi also told the reporters that Pakistan is not interested in “talks for the sake of talks” and “photo opportunities”.
Instead, it wants talks that are result-oriented and meaningful, he said.
“Our stand is very clear — we were ready for talks yesterday and we are ready today too. But we want purposeful and meaningful talks,” he said.
Mr. Qureshi said that Pakistan had presented a roadmap for future engagements during the Foreign Secretary-level talks on February 25.
“If they want to resume the composite dialogue, Pakistan is ready. If they want to just sit and talk without results, we are in no hurry and we can wait,” the Foreign Minister remarked.
Pakistan presented its views on all issues, including the Kashmir dispute and differences over sharing of river waters, during last month’s talks.
“We told them that they are crying over one Mumbai incident while we have had many Mumbai incidents in several cities. Many people have been killed and Pakistan’s economy has been affected. We are a bigger victim of terrorism than India...It is necessary to cooperate to tackle this problem,” he said.
Mr. Qureshi claimed India was not resuming full-fledged dialogue with Pakistan due to domestic political compulsions.
“There is no political consensus on engaging Pakistan and when to do it. Some people want to engage and immediately as it in India’s interest, others say no talks should be held till there is a result in the trial (of Pakistani nationals involved in the Mumbai attacks),” he said.
In response to a question, Mr. Qureshi said India is bound under the Indus Waters Treaty to give Pakistan its share of river waters “under any circumstances“.
He added: “We have taken up and will continue to take up any obstructions in this regard. The first option is to resolve such matters bilaterally. If there is no progress through such measures, then we have the option of international arbitration and we will use it.”