India should stand down troops, says Pakistan

"I believe if India deactivates its forward air bases and similarly, relocates its troops to peacetime positions," said Pakistani FM.

India should stand down troops, says Pakistan

Pakistan called on India on Tuesday to deactivate its air bases, return troops to "peacetime" positions and resume a dialogue suspended after last month's militant attacks in Mumbai.

Tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours has been running high since gunmen killed 179 people in the attacks on India's financial hub.

India claims the attackers were trained in Pakistan. But Pakistan wanted the evident from India.

"I believe if India deactivates its forward air bases and similarly, relocates its troops to peacetime positions, that will be a positive step," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a televised address.

"I believe by this, the existing tension in the region will be reduced," he said.

Pakistan has condemned the Mumbai attacks and has denied any role, blaming "non-state actors".

Army leave cancelled

The South Asian neighbours both tested nuclear weapons in 1998. They have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 and came to the brink of a fourth after gunmen attacked the Indian parliament in December 2001.

As tension rose after the Mumbai attacks Pakistan cancelled army leave and moved a "limited number" of soldiers off the Afghan border "for defensive measures", military officials said.

The military has officially denied any build-up of forces on the Indian border, though a security official said some troops had been moved there.

India has said its troops were on stand-by, although it said it had made no new deployments since the Mumbai attacks.

Qureshi, who was in India on a visit aimed at boosting ties when the gunmen struck Mumbai, said the peace process was in the interests of both countries.

"We should not ignore the importance of dialogue. It's our point of view that pressure and coercion do not improve relations between friends but make them complicated. That should be avoided," he said.

"That will not benefit the two countries but those forces which tried to create tension and unease by this incident and put the peace of this region at stake."
India have blamed the attacks on Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), set up by Pakistani security agencies in the late 1980s to fight Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region.

The group was banned in Pakistan in 2002.

Reuters
Last Mod: 30 Aralık 2008, 12:40
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