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December 30, 2001
2030 IST

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Action taken against terrorist groups: Pakistan

K J M Varma in Islamabad

Under mounting international pressure to move firmly against terrorists, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said on Sunday that his government had taken "substantive and expeditious" measures against extremist groups and awaited "actionable evidence" from India to prosecute the arrested militants.

Talking to newsmen in Islamabad after an all-party meeting addressed by President Pervez Musharraf, Sattar said the Pakistan government had taken strong measures in the last few days against extremist groups, and accounts of five groups had been frozen.

"The Pakistan government, in some cases, awaits evidence, specially from India before it initiates the process of prosecution," he said.

"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," Sattar said.

This was the first time that Pakistan has acknowledged that it has taken action against terrorist groups based on its territory based on accusations from India.

Though Pakistan had launched a limited crackdown against the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the two outfits involved in the December 13 attack on Indian Parliament, it had said that the action was taken for violation of domestic laws.

Earlier, Pakistan wanted evidence from India to move against the two groups and suggested a joint probe into the attack, which was rejected by India.

Referring to his forthcoming visit to Kathmandu to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Foreign Ministers' meeting as well as the summit, Sattar said, "We hope that the presence of the Indian colleagues would provide an opportunity for talks."

About the border tension following military build-up on both sides, he said, "Our anxieties are mounting not only by the day, but hours, as we receive information about the movement of the Indian forces on the border."

Sattar said the "most worrying signal" for Pakistan was that India started moving its forces from 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 US President George Bush to speak to President Musharraf and Prime Minister A B Vajpayee," he said

"As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are ready for a dialogue. But we cannot have dialogue only with ourselves."

The all-party meeting was attended by leaders of the breakaway group of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League and other smaller parties, but was reportedly boycotted by the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami, which had opposed Musharraf's cooperation with the US-led coalition's battle in Afghanistan.

Jamaat leader Liaqat Baluch, however, said his party was not invited to the meeting.

PPP vice chairperson Makhdum Fahim, who was authorised by party chief Benazir Bhutto, could not make it due to "non-availability" of flights.

ALSO SEE
The Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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(c) Copyright 2001 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

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