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'Problem with India is over Kashmir issue'

The Jamaat-ud-Dawah’s only "problem" with India is the Kashmir issue and the group does not condone terrorist attacks or suicide bombings in any part of the world, its chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed said on Sunday.

world Updated: Aug 21, 2011 23:13 IST

The Jamaat-ud-Dawah’s only "problem" with India is the Kashmir issue and the group does not condone terrorist attacks or suicide bombings in any part of the world, its chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed said on Sunday.

"If we have a problem with India, it is only the problem of Kashmir. We speak openly on Kashmir. The way India has forcibly occupied (Kashmir), we don’t think it is right under any circumstances,” said Saeed, also the founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Saeed said the JuD supports what he described as the "freedom movement" in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The basic problem is Kashmir, then there is the problem of water and dams, which is linked to Kashmir as our rivers come from Kashmir," he claimed.

"India is making plans to destroy Pakistan and we speak against that. We have no concern or links to whatever is happening inside India," Saeed said in an interview with Geo News channel.

Saeed, described by Indian officials as the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was responding to questions about the JuD being linked to terror attacks within India.

Asked if the Kashmir issue should be resolved through dialogue or war, Saeed said: "We are in favour of a dialogue but India’s stand proves it is not interested in resolving the matter under any circumstances."

He claimed his organisation’s involvement in the Kashmir issue had made it a "flashpoint" that the whole world is talking about.

Responding to a question on whether he condemned or supported acts of terrorism in India, Saeed replied: "My view on terrorism is that it is not allowed against Muslims or non-Muslims in Pakistan, India, the US or anywhere. Allah’s teachings and Islam do not allow bombings and killings of people who are not your enemies."

He described charges of terrorism levelled against him and the JuD as a "one-sided affair". He claimed: "Everything has happened on the basis of Indian propaganda. We sent our case to (UN Secretary General) Ban ki-Moon on two occasions and asked him to listen to us. We told him he had decided against us without hearing our side of the matter and this goes against all laws of the world."

Saeed said the Pakistan government was not helping him take up the case of the JuD with the UN or defending him in a lawsuit filed in a US court by relatives of two Jewish victims of the Mumbai attacks.

He said he had filed a petition in the Lahore High Court asking it to direct the government to assist him.

Saeed claimed the Pakistan government had put him "under house arrest due to the say-so of the Indian government" but the Lahore high court had freed him.

He also dismissed statements given by Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during the Mumbai attacks, and LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi that linked him to the assault on India's financial hub.

Saeed also dismissed reports that the JuD was linked to Al Qaeda and that the group's members were present in Afghanistan. He said the JuD has a monthly budget running into crores of rupees and was only involved in relief work and education.

Asked if his organisation was fighting against the US, Saeed replied: "We have no fight with the US but we say the US presence in and occupation of Afghanistan is wrong."

He also cast doubts on the 9/11 terror attacks, saying there were a "mystery raised by the US".

Responding to a question about the popular impression that the JuD has close ties with the military and is the "B-team of the Pakistan Army", he said: "The army has its own work and does it and we do our own work. To say we are the B-team (of the army) is part of the same allegations and propaganda."

"We love the army, which has served and defended Pakistan...no one should call me a B-team, we are A-team people," he added.