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`Manmohan for normal ties with Pak, Cong not supporting him`

Pakistan has said that PM Manmohan Singh was keen to normalise ties with it but "elements in Congress" did not support him.

Thimphu: In an apparent bid to drive a wedge
between the Indian government and the ruling party, Pakistan has
said that "well-meaning" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was
keen to normalise ties with it but "elements in Congress" did
not support him.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi criticised India
for refusing to have "meaningful" talks till Pakistan acts
against terrorism, saying the contention had been "dragged too
long" and "nobody is buying that anymore".

In an interview here, he insisted that Pakistan
has moved "considerably" against perpetrators of Mumbai
attacks and the reply to India`s dossiers recently was "not to
gain time" but to get additional information so that the case
can be taken to its logical conclusion.

Dialogue "is the only sensible thing to do. Two prime
ministers of this region, two important countries of this
region, have to sit and work out (bilateral issues)," said
Qureshi who is here to attend the two-day SAARC Summit that
got off today.

He said Pakistan was always ready for dialogue but "it
seems India is not yet ready, perhaps because of domestic
political considerations".

Elaborating on his contention, he said, "I am convinced
that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants to move forward".

"I think, he (Singh) is a well meaning individual, he has
a vision, he wants to leave a legacy behind, he is an
academic, he is an economist. He understands the benefits that
can accrue to the region if there is normalisation between two
important players of the SAARC region. But it seems that
elements within the Congress are not giving him the support he
should be given".

He, however, did not identify the "elements" within the
Congress whom he was referring to.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister said both India and
Pakistan have recognised that dialogue is the only way forward
and. "If that is so, how can we have dialogue not engagement?
Pakistan has never shied from the engagement. We have said we
are ready".

On India`s emphasis that there can be no meaningful
dialogue till Pakistan takes credible action against
cross-border terrorism, Qureshi said, "That has been dragged
too long, nobody is buying that anymore because Pakistan has
moved considerably forward on that score on the perpetrators
of Mumbai".

He said seven of the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks have
been arrested and the trial is going on.

"You got to recognise that... What you are not realising
that Pakistan today is in a different state of mind. Pakistan
has woken up to the challenge of terrorism. Pakistan is a
victim of terrorism," Qureshi said.

"You are talking of Mumbai, we have had many Mumbais in
all the major cities of Pakistan. Innocent lives have been
lost like innocent lives were lost in Mumbai," he said.

When pointed out that India was unhappy that Pakistan was
only targeting Taliban and not groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba,
Qureshi claimed, "We do not differentiate. We are not
differentiating between acts of terrorism. An act of terrorism
is an act of terrorism, period".

When his attention was drawn to LeT chief Hafiz Saeed
against whom India wants action, he cryptically said, "same
old beaten track".

He said Saeed was arrested twice by Pakistan government
but courts let him off "because in the eyes of the judicial
process, the evidence against him was not strong enough to
keep him locked up. That is a legal process. You have an
independent judiciary, so do we".

Asked whether Pakistan was making any efforts to collect
evidence against Saeed in connection with terror activities,
Qureshi said, "Pakistan has, is and will continue to try and
collect evidence against any terrorist. We do not want our
soil to be used against anyone".

Queried whether it meant that even Saeed would not be
allowed to use Pakistani soil against India, he repeated,
"anyone... Anyone means anyone".

He said that by "disengaging," India was sending out a
message to the terrorists "that you control the agenda, by one
act, you can scuttle the whole process".

Qureshi also reminded India about the "agreement" that
the peace process, started in 2004, is "irreversible and acts
of terrorism will not impede the peace process".

Maintaining that India was not "fully recalling" that
"agreement", he said, "understand the spirit behind that,
recognise the changed situation, recognise that terrorism is a
common challenge".

He said that "harping on the same string, it seems, is
not going to pay off".

Asked about Pakistan`s demand for handing over of Ajmal
Kasab, the lone terrorist held during Mumbai attacks, Qureshi
refused to comment, saying the matter was sub-judice.


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