By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD, Dec 22: Senators belonging to different political parties assailed India on Monday for creating war hysteria by making provocative statements against Pakistan.
During discussions in the upper house on the security situation, they regretted that despite Islamabad’s cooperative stance, New Delhi was continuing with the blame game it had started soon after the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Leader of the House Mian Raza Rabbani said that the government was alive to the situation and had been in touch with countries having influence over India. He said that closed-door diplomacy was under way in view of the sensitivity of the situation.
Mr Rabbani said that there were no differences between the civilian and military leaderships on any issue, including tension with India. The entire nation was one over the threat and ready to protect sovereignty and integrity of the country, he said.
Mr Rabbani regretted that India was continuing to indulge in a blame-game without any concrete evidence. “We are neither apologetic nor scared,” he remarked, adding that Pakistan’s measured response as a responsible nuclear state must not be misconstrued as weakness.
He said Pakistan never wanted war, but it was ready to give a befitting reply in case of any aggression.
He rejected talk of the formation of a national government as premature, saying that the demonstration of unity by legislators was sufficient to send a message across the border.
Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q termed the terrorists enemies of humanity and said Pakistan was the biggest victim of terrorism.
He said during a meeting with US Senator John Kerry, he had asked him not to unduly pressure Pakistan. He said he had told Mr Kerry that Pakistan was ready to put any individual or group on trial if concrete evidence was provided.
Mr Mushahid said the response of the government to India’s allegations and threats must not be apologetic and defensive. “We have our cards and need to play them properly.”
Mr Mushahid said the enemy wanted us to make a mistake but Pakistan has to behave maturely. He said the nation was united on the issue of security.
Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party said the convening of the APC for briefing leaders of 58 political parties was a great initiative. He praised the leadership for defusing tension and castigated India for issuing hostile statements against Pakistan.
Gulshan Saeed of the PML said India should be reminded that Pakistan was a nuclear power and its armed forces and the people knew how to protect its sovereignty.
She called accusation about Pakistan’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks ridiculous. She said the time had proved that relations with India could not be improved by enhancing bilateral trade.
Ms Gulshan said that a joint meeting of the Senate’s standing committees on defence and foreign affairs should be convened.
Abdul Raheem Mandokhel of the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party said that the military operation in tribal areas should be halted and forces deployed there should be moved to the eastern border.
He pointed out that the operation launched in 2004 was meant against ‘foreign miscreants’ and was supposed to be wound up in a few months. He regretted that it was continuing even after four years and had been extended to Swat and Bajaur.