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Mar 12, 2009 at 06:52pm IST

Cabinet group reviews Pak situation

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Thursday and reviewed the developments in Pakistan, where political instability is deepening.

New Delhi issued a statement saying "strong and stable regimes" are needed in the neighbourhood to combat terrorism.

This was the first CCS meeting chaired by the Prime Minister since he underwent coronary bypass surgery around seven weeks ago.

AT UNEASE: India and Pakistani border guards in Wagah. Pakistan's main Opposition is on a protest march.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony and Home Minister P. Chidambaram attended the meeting.

The meeting analysed the ramifications of political instability in Pakistan on the security situation, reliable sources said.

The meeting also discussed the deals struck by Pakistan with the Taliban in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) which have implications on the security of India, especially in the context of cross-border terrorism directed from elements in the neighbouring country.

India has chosen not to comment explicitly on the "internal affairs" of a neighbouring country.

"We do hope these issues will be resolved by their own system and by their own mechanism," Pranab Mukherjee told reporters after the CCS meeting.

"It's essential that there is a stable government which is responsible and responsive to the situation," he underlined.

The Pakistani media is full of speculation about strains in relations between the powerful army and the civilian government in that country and the political standoff between President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif that has fuelled reports about a possible military coup in that country.

Defying a government ban, Sharif's supporters have joined protesting lawyers in their "long march" to Islamabad to demand the reinstatement of deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and other judges.

The political climate worsened after Zardari sacked the government of then Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif following the Supreme Court's disqualification of Nawaz Sharif and his brother over old charges of corruption.

"The recent developments in Pakistan are an internal matter of the country. We never comment on internal matters of any sovereign nation," Mukherjee said.

"Pakistan is an important neighbour. I hope that all internal matters will be resolved by its leadership amicably and peacefully, in its best interests," he said.

"We have always been interested to see strong and stable regimes, more so in our neighbourhood, so that the entire region can grow and develop together, for the common good of its people," Mukherjee said.

"This is even more relevant to Pakistan, to enable her to fight against elements in the country that are utilising the terror infrastructure there and engaging in terrorism within Pakistan and outside," the minister stressed.

Pakistani media is reporting that Zardari has decided to end Governor's rule in Punjab--a key demand of Sharif--and that his Pakistan Peoples Party is in talks with the PML-Q to try and form a coalition in Punjab province.

Pakistan's Interior Ministry has promised the Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, VVIP security and warned them of serious threat to their life.

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