Pak. has taken no concrete step so far, says Advani

NEW DELHI, DEC. 30. Describing Islamabad's steps against terrorist outfits as `a joke', the Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, today said Pakistan could even now give a ``firm assurance'' to the world community and India that it would stop aiding and abetting terrorism to prevent New Delhi from taking any measure at the non-diplomatic level.

``So far steps have been taken at the diplomatic level only, and even such strong measures have not been taken in the past. Any step at the non-diplomatic level can be taken only if our neighbour continues to support terrorism,'' he told `Hum Hazir Hain' programme on Doordarshan's national channel.

``Our real fight is not with Pakistan but with terrorism and those who support it.'' Terrorism had crossed the `Lakshman Rekha' with the December 13 Parliament attack. ``No sovereign nation which is conscious of its right to security can sit silent. It has to think as to what steps need to be taken to check this menace.''

Referring to Islamabad's response to India's demands for taking action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e- Mohammad, the Home Minister said ``to our demands for freezing of their assets or arresting their leaders, there is till now no sign of anything concrete. Their response to our demands is ... a joke.''

``We are not going to be taken in by this kind of deceptive cosmetics, but must make terrorism our prime target.'' ``While terrorism is dangerous, the most dangerous is the state which sponsors terrorism, arms and finances terrorist groups. Therefore, Taliban and Pakistani regime are most dangerous,'' Mr. Advani said, adding ``if Islamabad stops aiding and abetting them, we can handle them. But there is no sign of that so far''.

Referring to India's long years of suffering on account of terrorism, Mr. Advani said in reply to questions ``the war is on, if not declared but definitely covert''.

``We have to decide now as to what our response should be - whether we are going to respond as we have been doing so far or are we going to change our response to meet the new situation.'' Mr. Advani said while the people's feelings had to be taken into account in a democracy, several other factors such as the response of the armed forces and the inputs received from Intelligence agencies had to be taken into account to decide on the Government's response.

``I can understand the people's feelings in this regard. Soon after September 11 terror strikes in the U.S., people started asking what is (President) Bush doing or is he afraid of taking action. But now they (U.S.) have removed Taliban. So the process takes time,'' he said. India had so far made ``graded responses'' at the diplomatic level such as recalling the Indian High Commissioner, downgrading of staff and stoppage of overflights. ``These are parts of stage by stage diplomatic responses'' and the Government would have to decide whether to ``escalate'' it or not.

On bringing an anti-terrorism law, Mr. Advani said he hoped to see the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance not only approved by Parliament but converted into a law in the next session.

``I will continue to talk to the Opposition to convince them on the need for such a law ... one of the prime motives of which is to give legal safeguards to police and security personnel whose acts against terrorists are bona fide.''

Mr. Advani said his coming trip to the U.S. was intended to ``mould'' the opinion there as the media and the people ``know much less about India'' and its fight against terrorism.

To a question on his formulation of a ``pro-active policy'' against terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the policy was to search, identify and eliminate or arrest the terrorists instead of reacting to their attacks. ``Hot pursuit is not the intention. The intention is not merely to react but to be pro-active. That policy is continuing till date,'' he said.


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