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Lashkar has change of heart

delhi Updated: Feb 29, 2008 03:08 IST
Amit Baruah
Amit Baruah
Hindustan Times
Jammu & Kashmir

For a group that “lost” some 15,000 jihadis in an effort to “liberate” Jammu & Kashmir till 2001, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an alias for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), has done an incredible volte face.

The Jamaat, headed by Hafiz Saeed, now believes that bomb blasts at public places, destruction of public property, random killing of innocent people, rape of women and other crimes against humanity are “blatant acts of terrorism”.

The Jamaat’s website, claims that whoever carries out such acts, whether an organisation or a state, is a terrorist. And, wonder of wonders, the Jamaat also claims that it has always carried out its activities peacefully.

Separately, a gathering of leading Indian Muslim clerics in Deoband on Monday came close to issuing a fatwa against acts of terror and said that the individuals, private groups and the state could be responsible for such incidents.

It looks as if the Pakistani state “pressure” and the desire to continue with relief activities in the country led the Jamaat to adopt this new posture. Interestingly, the group says it does not believe in armed struggle against “Muslim rulers in Islamic countries”.

Keeping its option open to wage armed struggle against India, this formulation is, clearly, a reference to Pakistan. “Such activities (armed struggle) not only weaken the Muslim nation…but also provide an opportunity for non-believers…to succeed in their nefarious schemes.”

For a group that has also been consistently hurling abuse against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and his pro-India policies, the Jamaat has now adopted an almost unrecognizable position.

“We can force neither the rulers, nor the people, to change. Those who use violence to impose their point of view actually lack the force of argument,” the Jamaat says about its aims and objectives on the website.

The Jamaat, aka the Lashkar, has tried hard to distance itself from the terrorist group responsible for some sensational terrorist attacks on Indian soil. However, there are few takers for such views.

In April 2006, the State Department of the United States announced the addition of the Jamaat to the list of aliases under which the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba had been operating.