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'No evidence yet of Indian link to Lahore attacks'

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
April 12, 2009 00:02 IST
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Investigators had not yet found any conclusive evidence to suggest that India was involved in recent terror attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team and a police training centre near Lahore, Pakistan's Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik has said.

Distancing himself from Lahore police chief Pervaiz Rathore's claim o Friday about India being linked to the two terror attacks, Malik said evidence is still being collected and investigations were still underway.

There is nothing "on record as yet" to suggest India's involvement in the two attacks, he said. Malik said he had tried to speak to Rathore to find out on what basis he had made his claims but was unable to reach him.

Rathore "has been asked as to what basis he took the name of India," Malik added.

The terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 3 was being probed by a judicial commission and officials were "not supposed to talk" on that issue, he told a news conference.

Asked about Home Minister P Chidambaram's comments that the upcoming general election in India could be disrupted by terror attacks carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, Malik said Islamabad is prepared to extend full cooperation if New Delhi shares information in this regard.

The two countries shared a common enemy, he said.

Referring to the terrorist siege of the police training centre at Manawan on March 30, Malik said: "I know some suspects have been arrested. The investigation is still on and it is not concluded as yet. I will not give any comment on it unless I have got the final report".

Malik said that the father of the prime suspect in the Manawan attack was married to a woman from India and this could have been the basis for Rathore's comments. However, he pointed out that things had "been termed wrongly".

The prime suspect, who was arrested while trying to target a helicopter near the training centre, was an Afghan who had settled in the Waziristan tribal region, Malik said.   

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani too had distanced himself from the Lahore police chief's claims.

On the Taliban threat to the upcoming elections in India, Malik said: "Full cooperation will be extended by the interior and foreign ministries because we believe terrorists have no religion and no boundaries".

Asked about the action taken by the interior ministry on India's replies to Pakistan's 30 questions seeking more information about the Mumbai attacks, Malik said the response had been examined and there could be further developments next week. "It is in the final stage now," he said.

Pakistan has so far arrested six persons in connection with the Mumbai attacks. It has charged four of them, including Lashker-e-Tayiba operatives Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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