28 Dec 2008

Promises by Pakistani leaders

8:17 am on 28 December 2008

President Asif Ali Zardari promised on Saturday to rid Pakistan of terrorism and his prime minister said the military would not take action first in any face-off with India.

Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours have deteriorated after India blamed a group based in Pakistan for attacks on Mumbai that killed 179 people late last month.

Pakistan has cancelled army leave and shifted some troops from its western border with Afghanistan to the eastern border with India.

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

At a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, President Zardari said dialogue was the best way forward.

Earlier, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Pakistan did not want war but was ready for one, although it would not be the first to act in any confrontation with India.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since 1947 and came to the brink of a fourth after gunmen attacked the Indian parliament in December 2001.