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Pakistan rubs intolerance salt

Islamabad, Sept. 24 (Reuters): Pakistan’s government condemned the attack on the Swaminarayan temple in Gujarat and denied any role in the violence.

Information minister Nisar Memon said the attack reflected the failure of Hindu nationalist leaders in India to build a tolerant society in Gujarat, where communal violence has flared this year.

“We condemn this attack on an Indian temple by whoever has done it,” he said.

“This is the kind of society that the leadership of the BJP has built in Gujarat,” the minister added.

The BJP said the attack, which killed at least 23 people, was aimed at stoking communal tension and could have been carried out by “Pakistan-supported terrorists” frustrated by the success of elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

“I think the leadership of the BJP has Pakistan-phobia,” Memon said. “Anything that goes wrong in their country they blame Pakistan…. They would do better to solve the problems of their land,” he added.

Memon also rejected India’s claim that the elections in Jammu and Kashmir had been a success, and pointed to the low turnout in Srinagar today.

Pakistan argues that a plebiscite should be held for Kashmir’s people to decide between rule from New Delhi or Islamabad.

“It has once again been proven that they want a plebiscite not an election,” Memon said. “They have abstained totally from the elections despite the use of force. It is quite clear India has failed to convince the Kashmiri people to vote,” he added.

Around a million troops have been massed on the India-Pakistan border since an attack last December on India’s Parliament, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-backed militants.

US, UK reaction

The US and the UK have also condemned the attack, saying such attacks can never be justified and do not promote any cause, PTI adds.

US President George W. Bush’s spokesman Ari Fleischer said in Washington: “The President condemns all terrorist attacks. This was a particularly deadly attack and the President condemns it.”

British foreign secretary Jack Straw said: “I am horrified by this attack on innocent civilians. Religion can never be an excuse or justification for violence.”

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