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Pak. seeks `actionable evidence'

ISLAMABAD, DEC. 30. The Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has said that while Pakistan desired peace with India, it was capable of defending its sovereignty in the face of any aggression, even as the Foreign Minister, Mr. Abdul Sattar, asserted that Islamabad has taken ``substantive and expeditious'' measures against Pakistan-based extremist groups and awaited ``actionable evidence'' from India to proceed against the detained militants.

Mr. Sattar's comments came at the end of an all-party meet convened by Gen. Musharraf to take stock of the latest situation in the wake of tension on the Indo-Pakistan border. Leaders from all parties, barring the Jamaat-e-Islami, participated.

Gen. Musharraf said that Pakistan intended to defuse tension arising out of the Indian military build-up. However, if any aggression was launched, ``our armed forces are fully capable of defending the sovereignty of Pakistan''.

The all-party meet was the first in several months. In what appears to be an effort to secure support from all quarters for the first time, the military regime contacted the former Prime Minister, Ms. Benazir Bhutto, and sought her party's co- operation.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr. Sattar said that in the last few days, action had been initiated against extremist groups and accounts and assets of five groups frozen. ``At the moment we are hearing accusations from across the border. We want actionable evidence so that we can begin the judicial process. We are ready to move but you cannot proceed without any evidence''.

On his coming visit to Kathmandu, he said, ``we hope that the presence of the Indian colleagues would provide an opportunity for talks subject to the willingness of the other side''.

On the tension at the border, he said ``our anxieties are mounting not only by the day but by the hour as we receive information about the movement of the Indian forces on the border''.

The Minister said that the most worrying signal for Pakistan was that India started moving its forces from the peacetime locations not only from the west but also from the east for military action which could be extremely dangerous. ``The rate at which India prepared for war sent a worrying signal which prompted the world leaders like the U.S. President, Mr. George W. Bush, to speak to Gen. Musharraf and the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee''.

On the chances of resumption of talks between India and Pakistan, Mr. Sattar said the world leaders were not only pressing for restraint but also for a dialogue between the two countries. ``As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are ready for a dialogue, but we cannot talk only to ourselves. The other party has to be persuaded to negotiate with a view to halt and reverse the process of build-up''.

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