Pakistan-based terror groups, including the Lashker-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, have vowed to step up their 'jihad' to liberate Kashmir from India and asked Islamabad to adopt a concrete strategy for this purpose.
The militant leaders pledged to strengthen their armed struggle and wage a jihad to "free" Jammu and Kashmir during a rally held yesterday in Kotli, a town in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Among the dozen speakers who addressed the gathering were top LeT commander Abdul Wahid Kashmiri and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, who also heads the United Jihad Council, an umbrella organisation of all the militant groups active in Kashmir.
Leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, declared a front for the LeT by the UN Security Council, also attended the rally.
Kashmiri said the LeT will continue supporting the Kashmiri people "until they achieve freedom from India".
In his address, Salahuddin said jihad is the "only way" to liberate Kashmir as "diplomacy, talks and negotiations" over the past few decades "have not worked".
"We reject talks between India and Pakistan as a hoax because dialogue can never lead to the freedom of Kashmir," said Salahuddin.
"Therefore, we strongly believe that the Kashmir dispute can be settled only through jihad," he said.
A resolution adopted at the rally said: "Jihad will continue until India ends its occupation of Kashmir."
Salahuddin also accused Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf of having stabbed the Kashmiris in the back when they were "nearing their freedom".
About 5,000 people attended the rally in Kotli, located about 80 km from Islamabad.
Militant groups based in PoK had maintained a low profile over the past few years. However, there has been a marked spurt in their activities in recent months.
Yesterday’s rally was organised to mark Pakistan Day, the anniversary of the adoption in 1940 of the Pakistan Resolution, which called for the creation of a separate country for the Muslims of the subcontinent.
India has asked Pakistan to take action against LeT founder and JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who it has described as the mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Pakistan has maintained that there is no evidence that would allow it to prosecute Saeed.