Musharraf strengthens foothold in Pak through Kashmir


Srinagar: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah Wednesday criticized the anchors of news channels for interviewing former president of Pakistan Parvez Musharraf, who has openly supported the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

“May be now some of our news channels & anchors will stop falling over themselves to interview this man. Clearly he will say anything to find a foothold in Pakistan,” Omar tweeted.

Earlier, this week Musharraf said he is the biggest supporter of banned militant group LeT, which is operating in Kashmir and that he “supports” its involvement.

“I am the biggest supporter of the LeT and I know they like me and JuD (Jamaat-ud-Dawa) also likes me. Yes, they are involved in Kashmir and I support them,” Musharraf told Pakistan’s AryTV.

JuD, which is headed by Hafiz Saeed, is believed to be LeT’s ‘charitable’ wing.

Saeed was freed after 10 months of house arrest last week after Islamabad failed to submit proof to a court to back charges that his release would lead to law and order problems. The US has put a $10 million bounty on Saeed’s head after the 2008 Mumbai attack.

On presence of the LeT in Kashmir, he said, “I was always in favor of action in Kashmir and of suppressing the Indian Army in Kashmir and they (LeT) are the biggest force. India got them declared as terrorists by partnering with US.”

New Delhi accuses Pakistan of arming, training and financing militant groups fighting to secede Jammu and Kashmir from India.

However, Musharraf said Saeed was not involved in the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 because Saeed “himself denied the charges” of being the attacks’ mastermind.

The LeT is banned in Pakistan since 2002 and it was, in fact, the Musharraf government that banned the group. When reminded of that fact, Musharraf said he didn’t know much about Saeed at the time. He implied that he wouldn’t have banned LeT if he had known more about Saeed.

“We had banned LeT because the situation was different at that time. We were moving towards peace and as such I thought we should reduce ‘mujahids’ (religious warrior) and increase political dialogue and frankly I had very less knowledge about him,” said Musharraf.

During the interview, Musharraf declared himself a liberal and a moderate and said he was not against all religious leaders.

Musharraf, who ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999, now lives in exile in Dubai. He was declared an absconder by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

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