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Saturday, April 20 2024

Saeed vows to fight for Kashmir in anti-India rant after release

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Lahore: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed on Friday vowed to continue the “jihad” for Jammu and Kashmir’s “independence”, shortly after the man accused of plotting the 2008 Mumbai massacre was released after 10 months of house arrest.

Speaking to his supporters at Lahore’s Jamia Masjid Al Qadsia, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) leader spewed venom against India and the Pakistani civilian leadership.

Saying he was “fighting for the freedom of Pakistan and Kashmir”, he said he had been put under house arrest for fighting for the rights of Kashmiris and Pakistani leaders were making decisions under external pressure.

“If the leaders of Pakistan start making their own decisions, they will no longer face external pressure,” he thundered as his supporters kept raising slogans hailing him.

Saeed, who carries a $10 million bounty announced by the US for his role in terrorist activities, also accused ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of committing treason by seeking friendship with India and forgetting the Kashmiri cause.

“Sharif has been punished for forsaking Kashmiris. Sharif was ousted because he committed treason with Kashmiris.”

Speaking about alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court, Saeed said: “Peace can’t be established in Pakistan if (such) terrorists continue to enter the country.”

Saeed was released after Thursday midnight after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further.

In an earlier address to his supporters massed outside his Johar Town residence, Saeed thanked the Lahore High Court for refusing to buy the government’s arguments that his release would pose a threat to public safety.

“I’m happy that no allegation against me was proved, which could have done damage to me, or my country’s interests,” Saeed told supporters. He called his release a “victory” for Pakistan.

“Just as I am free today, Kashmir will also be free one day,” Saeed said. “It is because of Kashmir that India has been after me.

“I pray to Allah to give us strength so that we keep fighting for Kashmir’s independence (from India),” he said.

A court on Wednesday ruled out prolonging Saeed’s detention due to a lack of evidence or justification for it. Saeed was placed under house arrest on January 30.

The US expressed deep concern over Saeed’s release and asked Pakistan to “arrest and charge” him for his terrorist crimes. There was no official comment from India, which had earlier said that his impending release showed Pakistan was not sincere in fighting terrorism.

The US and the UN classify JuD as a terrorist group and it is alleged to be a front organization for the terror outfit LeT, whose attack on Mumbai led to the death of 166 Indians and foreigners and almost brought India and Pakistan to war.

“Lashkar-e-Taiba is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens,” the State Department spokeswoman said.

Interpol has also issued a red notice for his arrest.

New Delhi also accuses the LeT of carrying out terror attacks in other parts of India, including Jammu and Kashmir, where a separatist campaign backed by Pakistan and raging since 1989 has left thousands dead.

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