Monday, April 9, 2012

We are serious about Saeed but need evidence: Gilani

LAHORE: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has acknowledged that the case of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed was an "issue" between Pakistan and India but said Islamabad needs "substantial" evidence against him to try him in a court of law.

"We are serious on the issue of Saeed but the question is how to proceed against him without evidence. Courts here are independent and we need substantial evidence against him," Gilani said while interacting with a group of reporters at his residence Lahore on Sunday evening.

Gilani further said it had been agreed that the interior and home secretaries of the two countries would discuss the issue when they meet on April 16.

He said that former premier Nawaz Sharif too had asked him about the government's stance on the issue of Saeed.

Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, has been in focus after the US offered a $10 million bounty for him last week.

Gilani has said in parliament that the case of Saeed is an "internal issue" of Pakistan and any evidence against him should be provided to Islamabad so that it could be examined by the courts.

Responding to a question about groups like JuD fanning extremism in Pakistan, Gilani said: "I have ordered action against all proscribed organisations".

He said there should be peace between India and Pakistan and it was in the interest of both countries as well as the region.

"(Indian Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh and I are committed to bringing stability to the region. We will take every possible step towards peace and stability," he said hours after President Asif Ali Zardari met Singh in New Delhi.

Gilani said Zardari's visit to India was successful and all "core issues", including Kashmir, were discussed during the trip.

Pakistan-India relations are on a high note following the exchange of high-level delegations, including a visit by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, he said.

Referring to the move to give Most Favoured Nation-status to India, he said trade relations are in the interest of the people of both countries.

The Pakistan government wants a solution to the Kashmir issue that is acceptable to the people and leadership of Kashmiris.

Asked about the possibility of a breakthrough in talks with India on the Kashmir issue and the sharing of river waters, Gilani said his government is optimistic as it wants to promote regional harmony.

The government will keep working for durable peace in the region, he added.

Pakistan has been making efforts for regional peace and stability through trade with China, India, Iran and Afghanistan, the premier said.

"Progress on balance of trade with India, Pakistan- Afghanistan transit trade and energy projects with Iran will help the country achieve the goal of stability in the region," he said.

Friendly relations with neighbouring countries ensure regional harmony and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Pakistan would strengthen bilateral relations, he said.

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