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Gilani for early resumption of talks

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Yousuf Raza Gilani
Yousuf Raza Gilani

Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: It is not clear yet how the Pakistan government plans to deal with Jamat-ud-dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, but Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani made another pitch on Friday for resumption of dialogue with India and a quick solution on the Kashmir issue.

“We hope that the Indian leadership would realise, sooner than later, that the breakdown of the peace process works only to the advantage of terrorists,” Mr. Gilani said in an address at the National Defence University here.

He described New Delhi’s decision to put the peace process on hold after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks as “unfortunate” but said Pakistan was committed to “friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations with India.”

At the heart of the mistrust between the two countries was the Kashmir issue, Mr. Gilani said, calling for resumption of the dialogue for the peaceful resolution of “all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Kashmir,” for lasting peace in South Asia.

The Prime Minister did not make any reference to the new frost in relations with India following the release of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, formerly head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, who India holds responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Mr. Saeed was in house arrest after the Mumbai blasts and a U.N. Security Council designation against him and his group, but he was ordered released earlier this week by the Lahore High Court, which held there was no evidence to hold him under a preventive law.

Pakistan’s Attorney-General Latif Khosa, meanwhile, said there was no evidence to link Mr. Saeed with the Mumbai blasts, but he had been detained by the government for reasons of national security, and because of the U.N. Security Council designation against him..

He told Dawn News the “impression” in India and the world that Mr. Saeed was the mastermind behind Mumbai was not one shared by the Pakistan government.

“I am not toeing India’s line at all. We have our own perception,” he said. “India is wanting him, we say no, he is not involved [in the Mumbai attacks] and we [had to detain him] for national security and maintenance of public order.”

However, Mr Khosa was quoted telling The News that the federal and provincial Punjab government would move a joint appeal against Mr. Saeed’s release as there was “all-out evidence” for his preventive detention.

He told the newspaper that the two governments would move the appeal “without wasting even a day” once they received a copy of the Lahore High Court verdict in favour of Mr. Saeed, for which, he said, “we have applied on an urgent basis.”

Mr. Khosa said he had presented the evidence against the JuD chief in chambers to the judges on the Lahore High Court bench that decided the Hafiz Saeed case. The evidence could not be revealed publicly as it was of a “sensitive nature,” he said.

“We, the federal and the provincial governments, provided all-out evidence and proofs to the High Court bench members and apprised them about on-ground realities as to why it was necessary to detain Hafiz Saeed, otherwise there will be law and order disturbances,” he said.

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