Islamabad: The 26/11 attacks mastermind and the founder of banned militant outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Hafiz Saeed has once again rubbished the efforts by India and Pakistan to improve bilateral ties in the pretext of a cricket World Cup match between the two nations.
The JuD founder, while addressing a gathering of his supporters in Islamabad, slammed the good will gesture initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which led to his Pakistani counterpart accepting the invite to come to Mohali for the India-Pakistan match played on April 30.
And on the sidelines of the epic cricketing encounter, both leaders had held talks on ways to strengthen the bilateral ties.
But Saeed is, for obvious reasons, livid, he said, "This cricket diplomacy, these so called trade and friendship efforts have no value. We want to be clear about this. We are with the Kashmiri people and will continue to give our full support till they are free. We will stand by the Kashmiri people until they have achieved freedom.”
In his highly provocative rant, the JuD chief said that his organisation will continue to support the people of Kashmir against their suppression by Indian forces till they achieve their ultimate goal of freedom.
Saeed made these remarks while leading the funeral prayers for Kashmiri leader Maulvi Showkat Ahmed Shah, killed in Srinagar last week, and vowed for a "jihad" in J&K.
Dismissing the impression in certain quarters that the movement in Kashmir had become weak in the post-9/11 era, Saeed said he believed "It has come very close to its final stage". Saeed claimed that the Kashmiri leaders had kept alive their movement even "when Pakistan was under great pressure" and the government in Islamabad "always gave in to pressure".
"The path the Pakistani government is adopting, to gain India`s friendship is not acceptable to Pakistan under any circumstances and we want to be clear about this, we are with the Kashmiris and, god willing, we will fulfil our commitment," Saeed reportedly told his armed supporters.
Saeed also claimed that the movement in Kashmir would serve as an example for "Muslims in Hyderabad and Junagarh who want independence from the oppression of Hindus".
He also asked the Pakistani lawmakers and the government to adopt a "strong position" on the Kashmir issue so that it becomes clear to the people of Pakistan and Kashmir that they are "doing the right thing".
Saeed`s comments have come at a time when both Islamabad and New Delhi have sent good feelers and expressed keenness in resolving all vexed issues through a dialogue process.
However, his acidic speech is likely to water down the recent momentum build up by the two nuclear armed states and Pakistan establishment’s silence over his anti-India rant is likely to jeopardize the efforts to take the peace process forward.
Besides Saeed, the gathering was addressed by Abdul Aziz Alvi, the head of the JuD in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, United Jihad Council vice-chairman Muhammad Usman and leaders of the Hurriyat Conference.
Both Saeed and Alvi were briefly detained in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
In past, Saeed has led several rallies in Lahore during which he criticised India and backed calls for "jihad" in Jammu and Kashmir.
Referring to the situation in war-torn Afghanistan, he claimed this was a sign that India could not continue what he described as the "occupation" of Jammu and Kashmir.
"If Russia could not continue its occupation of Afghanistan, if America is preparing to pull out and they are admitting that they have failed in their mission in Afghanistan and they cannot continue their occupation… then India cannot continue its occupation of Kashmir," he claimed.