MULTAN, Pakistan - Pakistan warned India yesterday not to launch a strike against it and vowed to respond to any attack, but it also sought to defuse tensions with its rival in the aftermath of last month's Mumbai attacks.
Although the South Asian nuclear powers have engaged in tit-for-tat accusations in recent weeks, both sides have repeatedly said they hope to avoid conflict. But India has not ruled out the use of force in response to the Nov. 26-29 assault, for which it blames the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
"India should refrain from any surgical strike," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in his hometown of Multan in central Pakistan. "It should not commit this mistake, but if it does, Pakistan will be compelled to respond."
The comments follow recent forays by Pakistani fighter jets over several major Pakistani cities, though Qureshi noted the military has not mobilized its ground forces.
Pakistan has also accused Indian fighter jets of violating its airspace. New Delhi has denied the allegation.
Despite the heightened tensions, Qureshi said Pakistan wanted peace with India - with which it has fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.
"We should hope for the best but prepare for the worst," Qureshi said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani echoed the sentiments yesterday and urged the international community to pressure India to defuse the current tension.
He also repeated Pakistan's demand that India provide evidence to support its assertion the 10 gunmen who killed at least 164 people in Mumbai were Pakistani and had links to the banned Lashkar group.
"Whenever we receive evidence, we will examine it and investigate it, and we will share it with our people," Gilani said at the tomb of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, ahead of the first anniversary of her Dec. 27 assassination.
India has given Pakistan a letter from the lone surviving Mumbai gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, that reportedly says he and the nine other gunmen were Pakistani. He also asked to meet with Pakistani envoys, but newspapers in Pakistan reported yesterday that the government had rejected the request because it had no record he was a Pakistani citizen.
India has said it had given Pakistan sufficient evidence.
The parents of a rabbi
and his wife who were killed in last month's attacks in Mumbai lit
a 16-foot public menorah yesterday outside the building where the slain couple lived and died in the Indian city.
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg
and his wife, Rivka, were among scores killed by suspected Islamic extremists. The couple ran a center in Mumbai for the Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement.
The rabbi's parents
, Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg and Frida Holtzberg, were accompanied by Rivka Holtzberg's parents, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg and Yehudit Rosenberg, and several friends and relatives at the lighting ceremony marking the fifth night of Hanukkah.
The slain couple
, who moved to Mumbai in 2003, would light a menorah every year outside the Jewish center, known as Nariman House.
went inside the badly damaged house yesterday and saw
the room where Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg died.