Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed has said his organisation supports the efforts of the Pakistan government and army to “help the people of Kashmir”, calling it ‘jihad’.
“Jihad is the duty of an Islamic government... there is a government in Pakistan and it has always taken the stand that it is the right of Kashmiris to attain freedom. I say what our army will do to secure the right of Kashmiris is jihad... we extend help to Kashmiris alongside the Pakistani government... we call this jihad,” the Lashkar-e-Taiba founder said in an interview to a news channel in Lahore on Friday.
He also brought up the arrest of separatist Masarat Alam, who faces sedition charges for waving a Pakistan flag at a protest rally.
“The waving of Pakistani flags in Srinagar has shown the whole world that Kashmiris don’t want to live with India. India has to give Kashmiris their rights.”
“Is it justified to arrest Masarat Alam the way he was yesterday? He hoisted a Pakistan flag in Kashmir, not in Delhi. Kashmir is a disputed area, so nothing is wrong,” he said.
Saeed said if India was not prepared to give Kashmiris their rights, “we believe now that if they fire bullets, then the only answer is jihad”.
The BJP, which heads the government at the Centre and is part of the ruling alliance in the state, said Saeed’s statement reinforced the contention that Pakistan supports terrorists against India. “I don’t consider the statement of Hafiz Sayeed a serious thing, rather I consider it ridiculous. The serious thing is pointing towards Pakistan, which has made so many voices and slogans for its commitment to fight terrorism,” said spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi.
Echoing Trivedi, Union minister of state in the PMO Jitendra Singh said, “What is important for us is not what Pakistan is doing but what we have in the mind and the clarity with which we will deal with a situation like this (Kashmir violence).”
A home ministry official added, “The home ministry’s stand is very clear and consistent. During the UPA regime and now when the NDA is in power, we have been saying that Pakistan has done nothing to bring the accused of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to justice. Hafiz Saeed’s trusted aide and the main conspirator in the Mumbai attacks, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, was released on bail. Now Hafiz Saeed, a known asset of the Pakistani army, is being allowed to carry on his anti-India propaganda. Pakistan has totally failed to live up to its promise to rein in terror outfits working from its soil.”
Rana Banerji, a former special secretary of the external intelligence agency R&AW, said, “Though Lashkar has remained a most disciplined non-state asset of the Pakistani army, ultimately they will have to take a call on how to deal with it, as the day is not far when Hafiz Saeed, who already enjoys a great amount of sympathy in the radicalised sections of Pakistani society, will head towards capturing the state power there as well.”
Pakistan’s foreign office, too, released a statement condemning the “brutal use of force” in J&K. “Pakistan has consistently extended diplomatic, moral and political support to Kashmiris’ struggle for self-determination. Pakistan deplores the brutal use of force by Indian security forces against peaceful and unarmed Kashmiris,” it said.
(Inputs from HT Correspondent, Delhi and PTI)