Pakistan conveys protest over India’s ‘airspace violation’

Islamabad, December 18:

Pakistan has conveyed its protest to India over the alleged violation of its airspace by Indian fighter planes. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari is likely to request Afghan President Hamid Karzai to close down Indian consulate offices near the Pakistan-Afghan border as they were “creating problems” for Islamabad.

The Pakistan Foreign Office summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to convey concerns over the “technical and air space violations by Indian aircraft” on December 12 and 13. Pakistan handed over a diplomatic note to the Indian envoy saying the incident was not in conformity with the 1991 bilateral agreement on Prevention of Air Space Violations, a statement from the Foreign Office said.

According to a government official, President Zardari during his visit to Afghanistan tomorrow is likely to take up the issue of Indian consulate offices with President Hamid Karzai. “The president will discuss this issue with Mr Karzai and would request for closing down certain Indian consulate offices in areas bordering Afghanistan,” said the official.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed has said that the Pakistani government has failed to give “appropriate” response to India’s allegation against Pakistan. “India has established several consulate offices in Afghanistan areas bordering Pakistan and we understand that through these offices they are creating problems in our country,” Ahmed told reporters.

Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar has said the government can keep the arrested leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa in custody for 90 days without any reason and may extend their detention period further. Zardari has said that he had asked India to co-operate in the investigation into the Mumbai terror attacks and he would not leap to judgements while the investigation was continuing. He said Western intelligence agencies had not offered firm evidence to justify claims that the attacks were orchestrated from Pakistani soil. Zardari said claims that the sole surviving attacker had been identified by his own father as coming from Pakistan had not been proven.

“There was still no conclusive evidence to substantiate the claims that the attacks were orchestrated from Pakistani soil,” Zardari said in an interview with BBC. He said Pakistan was prepared to act if adequate evidence of any Pakistani complicity in the attacks emerged even as the opposition has criticised the government attitude and crackdown against the Jamaat-ud Dawa without any proof.

Zardari said that Hafiz Saeed, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa head, would remain under house arrest, without specifying the duration. The president said: “Let me assure you that if there is any investigation to be found pointing towards his involvement in any form of terrorism, he shall be tried for that reason.” The Pakistan government early this month banned the Jamaat, a charity front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which India has blamed for the Mumbai attacks in which over 170 people were killed. The crackdown on the Jamaat follows the United Nations listing it as a terror outfit.