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Musharraf says open to political alliance with JuD, Hafiz Saeed

“I spoke about Hafiz Saeed and I will say it proudly that LeT and JuD are both very good organisations of Pakistan,” said Musharraf, who is currently living in self-exile in Dubai.

world Updated: Dec 05, 2017 19:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pervez Musharraf,Lashkar-e-Taiba,Jamaat-ud-Dawah
File photo taken on April 20, 2013 shows former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf being escorted by soldiers as he arrives at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad. (AFP)

Days after describing himself as the greatest supporter of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said he is open to forging a political alliance with the banned militant group, the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and its chief Hafiz Saeed for Pakistan’s next general election.

“So far, there have been no talks, but if they want to be included in the alliance, by all means, I will welcome them,” Musharraf said, referring to his new 23-party “grand alliance”.

“If it is meant to be, it will be,” the former president, currently living in self-exile in Dubai, said during an interview with Aaj News channel.

Asked about the possible international repercussions of his statements in favour of the LeT, Musharraf said, “This is our country…we are aware of the internal situation in the country, the people in it and if they are good or bad.”

He added, “I spoke about Hafiz Saeed and I will say it proudly that LeT and JuD are both very good organisations of Pakistan…In 2005, I saw they were the best engineers. They did the best work at the time of the earthquake (in the Kashmir region).”

Musharraf further said the LeT and JuD were “not in favour of al-Qaeda or the Taliban” and questioned why the groups were being pushed “to the wall”. He said, “They have religious followers, youngsters who are religious…They are not terrorists and we should tell (this to) America and the world.”

He said Saeed should be given credit for engaging his supporters in welfare organisations and preventing them from “taking up weapons”.

Musharraf’s recent comments backing the LeT and JuD came in the wake of Saeed’s release from 10 months of house arrest. The release angered India, which accuses Saeed of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

The US, which has offered a $10 million bounty for the LeT founder, has demanded that Pakistan re-arrest Saeed and prosecute him for his crimes.

Musharraf, who left Pakistan after being charged with treason, announced the formation of Awami Ittehad, his “grand alliance” of 23 parties, last month to contest the general election to be held in 2018.

First Published: Dec 05, 2017 17:09 IST