Mushar­raf calls him­self 'great­est sup­porter of LeT'


For­mer pres­i­dent Pervez Mushar­raf de­clared that he is the great­est sup­porter of pro­scribed mil­i­tant group Lashkar-eTaiba (LeT). The dec­la­ra­tion of sup­port for LeT, Ja­maatud Dawa and its chief Hafiz Saeed, who was re­cently re­leased from house ar­rest, was made dur­ing a dis­cus­sion per­tain­ing to Mushar­raf's re­cently an­nounced 23-party ' grand al­liance' on a TV pro­gramme.

Dur­ing the talk show, the host pointed out that it will be "an in­ter­est­ing vis­ual" to see Mushar­raf ? "en­light­ened mod­er­a­tion, lib­eral out­look" ? sit­ting next to lead­ers of par­ties such as Ma­jlis-i-Wah­datul Mus­limeen, Sunni Ite­had Coun­cil and Pak­istan Sunni Tehreek ? "par­ties with re­li­gious colours." "You are de­scrib­ing me as a lib­eral [...] Yes, I am. These are my thoughts," the for­mer pres­i­dent said. "That does not mean I am against all re­li­gious par- ties." "I am the great­est sup­porter of LeT and I know they [LeT and JuD] are fond of me," he said.

When asked if he "liked" JuD chief Hafiz Seed, the for­mer pres­i­dent said that he does and that he has met with him.

"Be­cause I have al­ways been in favour of ac­tion in Kash­mir and I have al­ways been in favour of pres­sur­ing the In­dian army in Kash­mir. This is the big­gest force and they have been de­clared ter­ror­ists by In­dia and the US jointly," Mushar­raf said, ex­plain­ing his stance. The for­mer pres­i­dent went on to deny that LeT was in­volved in the 2008 ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Mum­bai ? an al­le­ga­tion lev­eled by In­dia and sup­ported by Wash­ing­ton.

Dur­ing the in­ter­view, the for­mer pres­i­dent said that Wash­ing­ton's state­ment fol­low­ing Saeed's re­lease last week was an "in­sult to Pak­istan's sovereignty."

Fol­low­ing his re­lease, the US had asked Pak­istan to re-ar­rest Saeed, who has been des­ig­nated a ter­ror­ist by the US Jus­tice Depart­ment. "The Pak­istani govern­ment should make sure that he is ar­rested and charged for his crimes," the State Depart­ment said in its state­ment.

Wash­ing­ton had said that the JuD chief's re­lease sends a "deeply trou­bling mes­sage about Pak­istan's com­mit­ment to com­bat­ing in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism."

Wash­ing­ton had gone on to warn that if Saeed is not charged for his crimes, "Pak­istan's in­ac­tion will have reper­cus­sions for bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and Pak­istan's global rep­u­ta­tion." "This lan­guage is of­fen­sive and in­sults Pak­istan's sovereignty... I would never ac­cept this," Mushar­raf said

"Please do not dic­tate to us; we have to de­cide on who is the head of [and] whether he has to be tried or pun­ished," the for­mer pres­i­dent added. The for­mer pres­i­dent went on to say that democ­racy in Pak­istan is not un­der threat but re­quires "tai­lor­ing" in keep­ing with the coun­try's re­quire­ments.

"We need [to make] amend­ments to the sys­tem, po­lit­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing, elec­toral re­forms and checks bal­ances."

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