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Pak won't hand over suspects

Islamabad, January 4
On the eve of a top US diplomat's visit here to push Pakistan to act against the Mumbai attack perpetrators, Islamabad today rejected India’s demand to hand over terror suspects linked to the strikes, insisting that there was no extradition treaty between the two countries.

There can be no comparison between Pakistan’s extradition of terror suspects to the US and India's demand for the handing over of the attack suspects, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.

“We have a treaty with the US, we do not have an extradition treaty with India. Please do not compare, every situation is not identical,” Qureshi told a news conference in his hometown Multan.

Pakistan will frame a response on matters related to the attacks only when it receives “something officially from India”, he said, adding that no information had so far been shared by New Delhi with Islamabad.

The foreign minister's comments came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked Pakistan to hand over terror suspects linked to the attacks.

Qureshi said he will meet US assistant secretary of state Richard Boucher tomorrow during his visit to Pakistan.

Boucher is travelling to the region to urge India and Pakistan to push forward the probe into the attacks and for action against the perpetrators of the terrorist strike that killed over 180 people.

Qureshi said the tensions sparked by the attacks had been defused due to the intervention of “friends and important nations in the region and beyond.”

“Good relations with India will remain our policy. The attacks caused a setback for bilateral relations. There is a pause in the composite dialogue but we will endeavour to end this pause and move towards normal relations. We must emerge from the stress that has developed in our relations,” he remarked.

After the attacks, Pakistan adopted a strategy with three objectives to reduce tensions with India, he said.

The first objective was to avoid war as it offers no solutions and would only complicate matters. The second was to protect Pakistan from international isolation and the third was to save the country from internal destabilisation. “I will not say we have achieved the objectives as yet but we are close to achieving them,” he said.

Internal stability is a basic pre-requisite to counter the many challenges facing Pakistan, Qureshi said.

He also said there was no link between the Kashmir issue and the attacks. “Pakistan’s stand on the Kashmir issue remains the same. Mumbai is an issue that is related to terrorism,” he said.

Pakistan wants a solution that will ensure attacks do not occur in India or any other country. “We have to get to the bottom of the matter so that such incidents are not repeated in future. The region is facing the threat of terrorism. There should be a regional approach for a solution,” he said.

“We want good relations with all our neighbours, be it India, China or Iran. Good relations with India are in Pakistan’s interests. It will ensure stability in Pakistan.,” the minister added. — PTI

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