Denies LeT’s involvement in Mumbai attack
Islamabad/Dubai: Calling himself the “biggest supporter” of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and its founder Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan’s former president Parvez Musharraf, who was the brain behind the 1999 Kargil conflict, has said he backs the militant groups’ role in “suppressing” the Indian Army in Kashmir.
“The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) are fond of me,” said Musharraf, the 74-year-old retired general who plotted the Kargil conflict, then toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and ruled over Pakistan for nine years.
Musharraf, who is on self-exile in Dubai, said Saeed “is involved in Kashmir” and he supports his involvement.
When asked if he “liked” JuD chief Saeed too, Musharraf said, “Yes and I have met with him.”
“Because I have always been in favour of an action in Kashmir and I have always been favouring for pressuring the Indian Army in Kashmir. This (LeT) is the biggest force and they have been declared terrorists by India along with the US,” Musharraf stressed while explaining his stance.
“India got them declared as terrorists after partnering with the US. Yes, they (LeT) are involved in Kashmir but in Kashmir it is between us and India,” he told the ARY News during an interview related to his 23-party grand alliance.
The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned LeT, which is accused of carrying out the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 that left 166 people dead. Musharraf categorically denied that LeT was involved in the Mumbai terror attack for which India blamed Pakistan.
The LeT was banned in Pakistan months after the 9/11 attacks on the US and the decision to ban the outfit was taken by the Musharraf government only.
When asked about it, Musharraf said he had banned the LeT under “different circumstances”. He did not elaborate.
Musharraf’s comments came days after Saeed walked free following Pakistan government’s decision against detaining him further. He was under house arrest since January this year.
India had expressed outrage over the decision of the judicial board to release Saeed, calling it an attempt by Pakistan to mainstream proscribed terrorists and a reflection of its continuing support to non-state actors.
Saeed, who is accused of having masterminded the November 2008 Mumbai attack, was placed on the terrorism black list by the United Nations in December 2008.
The US too has designated him as a global terrorist and has announced a reward of USD 10 million for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
When asked about the official US statement on Saeed, he said the statement was written in a highly offensive language and termed it an “insult to Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
Last Friday, the White House said there would be repercussions for US-Pakistan relations unless Islamabad took action to detain and charge the JuD chief for masterminding the Mumbai attacks.
The US had asked Pakistan to re-arrest Saeed, who has been designated a terrorist by the US Justice Department.
“This language is offensive and insults Pakistan s sovereignty I would never accept this,” Musharraf said.
“I would have told them,” he continued, “Please do not dictate to us. We are in-charge here. We will decide on who is the head of [and] whether he has to be tried or punished.”
When asked about his alliance with religious parties such as Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Sunni Ittehad Council, Pakistan Sunni Tehreek among others, Musharraf responded that such an alliance “is the requirement of the day”.
“You are describing me as a liberal. Yes, I am. These are my thoughts. This does not mean I am against all religious parties,” the former president told the anchor. He overruled the possibility of any martial law in Pakistan, saying democracy in the country is not under threat.
Musharraf, who is facing a slew of court cases, claimed that he was ready to face all charges as the courts are not under “Nawaz Sharif’s control anymore”.