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Won't handover 26/11 suspects to India, says Zardari

July 10, 2010 22:16 IST

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari ruled out handing over the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to India but said the "non-state actors" who derailed the Indo-Pak rapprochement will "hopefully" be brought to justice in his country. Zardari, who concluded a five-day visit to China, told the state-run CCTV in an interview that Pakistanis involved in the Mumbai attacks cannot be handed over to India as there was no extradition treaty between the two countries.

"I do not think it works like that between two nations. There have to be bilateral treaties of that sort which do not exist between us. But we are trying those people in Pakistan. Hopefully we will bring the offenders to justice,"he said. He said the non-state actors who attacked Mumbai had succeeded in derailing the India-Pak peace process, but hoped India's "mature democracy" would show "foresight" in taking forward the resumed talks. "I will remind you that when the incident of Bombay took place my Foreign Minister was in Delhi trying to sign a treaty with the Indians for a rapprochement, in that we had the concept of fighting terrorists together also," he said. However, the "non-state actors" managed to stall it for some time, he said.

"Now I think it is back on track and hopefully will go forward," he said, insisting that Pakistan wants to be friends with all its neighbours. "India is (our) neighbour, (a) large neighbour. We are from the same South Asia (background). Hopefully we both work it out in a mature fashion and come together," he said. He said Pakistan, as a "younger democracy" was always willing to appreciate India's "mature democracy" and expects the latter to have "a mature posture and foresight better than ours". "But in any case we will do our part to make sure that the future for the coming generations is better that the one we inherited," he said. Zardari, however, refused to give a clear response on Pakistan's opposition to India having a more active role in Afghanistan. He merely said Afghanistan is a sovereign country and "I am not in a position to encourage or discourage". There has been concern in Pakistan over India's growing influence in Afghanistan. Asked if Pakistan believed the US was adopting double standards in trying to have a relationship with both India and Pakistan and whether Islamabad was not comfortable with this, Zardari said: "we compliment that (triangular) relationship". He pointed out that Pakistan did not oppose India's civil nuclear deal with the US. 
"So we did not mind our friends having influence on other friends which we want to influence with. As far as Pakistan is concerned we are happy with the world to change itself (in order) to become friends with everybody".

"We do not feel any hostility in the world that needs to be there. Civilisation has to become even more civil as time passes. These are not the times of olden age. "Today everybody has to understand everybody's position taking into consideration and adopt itself to the necessary circumstances time to time," he said.

Zardari also pledged to strengthen cooperation with China over a railroad to connect the two sides and said his country can be a "force multiplier" for China's development. "Pakistan can offer road links to China," he told China Daily, expressing confidence that both countries can benefit significantly from the rail link."China is advanced in the rail field, so we can cooperate and develop together... We want to learn and recreate your success," he said.

He also said more interaction was needed to combat terrorism together and also pledged to share intelligence with its 'all-weather ally'. Talking to CCTV, he also touched issues concerning Pakistan's domestic front and played down differences with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. "I think we will be able to complete our term and survive the political turmoil".
He hoped that democracy, that has been derailed many times in Pakistan, would eventually evolve with the effort of
political forces. Referring to Pakistan's operations against the Taliban, he said: "We are fighting last remains of cold war
which was crated by the world take on super power of that time. They were in a time capsule. Hopefully we will be out of
it soon".

On the Sino-Pak friendship, he said, the two countries not only succeeded in connecting with each other through the
Karakoram highway but also helped each other diplomatically in the past.

K J M Varma in Beijing
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