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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has virtually ruled out barring Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack of 2008, from giving inflammatory speeches targeting India.

Pak rules out barring Saeed from giving hate speeches

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has virtually ruled out barring Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack of 2008, from giving inflammatory speeches targeting India.

"In a democracy, there is freedom of expression in Pakistan as in India. There are all sorts of people making all kinds of speeches. There are people with extremist views in both India and Pakistan…. And there is nothing you can do about it. There are views being expressed in Pakistan that I can do nothing about," Foreign Minister, Mr Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters here on Saturday night.

He, however, said the "positive" thing is that the views of extremist elements do not reflect that of the majority opinion either in India or in Pakistan.

"The overwhelming majority of people do not agree with hate speeches. They want normalisation, they want peace, they want growth, they want development", he said.

Asked if the tone laid down in Bhutan after the meeting between Prime Ministers Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani on the margin of SAARC summit yielded fruits, Mr Qureshi said: "I think there is progress."

He said the fact that Indian Foreign Secretary Ms Nirupama Rao visited Pakistan and met her Pakistani counterpart, that Indian Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram came to Pakistan and had "candid discussion" with his Pakistani counterpart "I consider this progress." In this context, Mr Qureshi also cited his meeting with Mr Chidambaram discussing issues of concern.

Pakistan termed as "presumptuous" India’s contention that enough was not being done in the Mumbai attacks case, saying the two countries would understand "each other’s challenges and difficulties" only through engagement.

In an interview, Mr Qureshi pressed for a common approach to deal with terrorism and promised to take action against any handler of 26/11, insisting that Islamabad will not sleep over leads forwarded to it. As India raises questions over the speed of trial in Pakistan in the 26/11 case, Mr Qureshi said the pace was slow because of "complications" arising from the fact that the crime was committed in a different country and exchange of information was a "cumbersome" process.

He said India and Pakistan should work together to send out a message to terrorists that they cannot "drive a wedge" between the two countries. "If you say Pakistan has not moved, it will be unfair," Mr Qureshi said when pointed to India’s refrain that enough has not been done by Islamabad in investigating the 26/11 case and bringing to book all those behind the carnage. "Do not question our sincerity. We want to move on because terrorism is hitting us as well," the Pakistan Foreign Minister said.

India has been complaining that Pakistan is not taking action against Mumbai attacks mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and other identified handlers continue to be at large. When referred to this, Mr Qureshi said, "This is being presumptuous. You are presuming because we are not talking. You are presuming because we are not in contact." He said when the two sides "sit, meet and talk, these presumptions will disappear and the reality will surface. When the reality surfaces, we will be able to understand each other’s challenges and difficulties."

Meanwhile, the chiefs of intelligence agencies of India and Pakistan held a meeting here as part of cooperation to fight terrorism and deal with security issues.

The Director General of Intelligence Bureau, Mr Rajiv Mathur met his Pakistani counterpart Mr Javed Noor and are understood to have discussed cooperation in security and combating terrorrism, sources said.

Pakistan Interior Minister, Mr Rehman Malik had said on Saturday evening that the agencies of the two countries would be working together to prevent any repeat of Mumbai attacks.

At a joint press briefing with Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram, he suggested that its Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) and CBI work together on the issue of terrorism, including on the 26/11 case. Mr Chidambaram held a meeting with Mr Malik on Saturday and pressed that more people, other than the seven held in Pakistan, were behind the Mumbai terror attacks and should be prosecuted.

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