Days after declaring himself the “biggest supporter” of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has said that he is open to forming a political alliance with the militant organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its chief Hafiz Saeed.
“If it is meant to be, it will be,” Musharraf said in an interview on Aaj News. “There have been no talks yet, but if they want to be included in the alliance, by all means, I will welcome them,” the former Pakistan Army chief said, referring to his recently announced 23-party “grand alliance”.
Musharraf had earlier said, “I am the biggest supporter of LeT and I know they like me and JuD also likes me.” He had also expressed his liking for Saeed.
Asked about the possible international repercussions his statements in favour of the proscribed group could have for the country, Musharraf said, “This is our country (…) we are aware of the internal situation in the country, the people in it and if they are good or bad.”
“I spoke about Hafiz Saeed and I will say it proudly that LeT and JuD are both very good organisations of Pakistan,” he said. “In 2005, I saw that they were the best engineers. They did the best work at the time of the earthquake (in Islamabad). They are not in favour of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Why are we pushing them to the wall?”
“They are not terrorists and we should tell (this to) America and the world,” Musharraf said. He added that Saeed should be given credit for employing his followers in welfare organisations and preventing them from “taking up weapons and joining the Taliban”.
Musharraf’s recent comments in favour of LeT and JuD come in the wake of Saeed’s release from house arrest on 24 November. Saeed has a $10 million US bounty on his head for his role in terror activities.