In a surprise revelation, former president Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday declared himself as the biggest supporter of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
The statement was made during a televised interview related to Musharraf’s recently announced 23-party grand alliance and the aftermath of the botched Faizabad operation.
The presenter of the show said that it would be “an interesting visual” to see him (Musharraf) with his “enlightened moderation, liberal outlook” sitting with the leaders of religious parties such as Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Sunni Ittehad Council, Pakistan Sunni Tehreek and Pakistan Awami Tehreek”
Musharraf responded that such an alliance “is the requirement of the day” owing to the current reality of Pakistan.
“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 said.
“The LeT and the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) are fond of me,’ he said. When asked if he “liked” JuD chief Hafiz Seed 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 is the biggest force and they have been declared terrorists by India along with the US,” Musharraf stressed while explaining his stance.
The former president also categorically denied that LeT was involved in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks for which India blamed Pakistan.
Musharraf said he had banned LeT in 2002 because the situation was different then.
Over Washington’s official statement on Hafiz 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 allegedly masterminding the Mumbai attacks. The US had asked Pakistan to rearrest 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. This is our decision.”
Musharraf overruled the possibility of any martial law in Pakistan and added that democracy in the country is not under threat.
Commenting on the recent Faizabad operation, he said the decision of the army not getting involved in the dispute was absolutely right.