Two of India’s most-wanted men – 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar -- have aired strikingly contrasting views on Islamabad’s ties with Delhi, a rare divergence of opinion among the anti-India faction of Pakistan’s top militants.
Azhar called for increasing “jihadist” strikes against India in a weekly column on the militant outfit’s newspaper, arguing that a lack of decisiveness could rob Pakistan of a “historic opportunity to seize Kashmir”, the Indian Express reported on Thursday.
“If the government of Pakistan shows a little courage, the problem of Kashmir, as well as the dispute over water, can be resolved once and for all right now,” Azhar wrote in a front-page article.
“If nothing else, the government simply has to open the path for the mujahideen. Then, god willing, all the bitter memories of 1971 will be dissolved into the triumphant emotions of 2016,” the Indian Express quoted from the article.
His comments were in stark contrast to remarks by Saeed, who described the United States as Pakistan’s greatest enemy and called on the government to focus on building ties with India instead.
“Instead of the United States, you (government) should build ties with India. The US would block such an effort,” Saeed said, as reported by India Today.
He also criticized the Pakistani government for its stand on Kashmir , which has been on the boil for three months following the killing of top militant leader Burhan Wani.
“Kashmiris are laying down their lives... the problem is with those sitting in Parliament in Pakistan, who have been voted to power by you. They are the real roadblocks because they have to look the US way,” India Today reported.
The apparent divergence of views comes at a time when tensions are mounting between the powerful Pakistani army and the civilian government over the military’s supposed backing for anti-India militant action.
Media reports earlier this month say Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif gave a stern warning to army chief Raheel Sharif to not back covert militant action – after Islamabad was diplomatically isolated on the issue.
Two weeks ago, India conducted surgical strikes against temporary militant shelters across the Line of Control – seen as a response to an attack on an army base in Kashmir that killed 19 soldiers.
Since then, several countries – including Pakistan’s ally the United States – have backed India and chided Pakistan for “sponsoring terrorism”, increasing the pressure on the government.
(With inputs from agencies)