Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf said he was open to forming a political alliance with Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's JuD and the LeT for the general election in 2018, calling them NGOs working for the welfare of the country.
Musharraf's remarks came days after he declared himself the "biggest supporter" of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
He spoke to Aaj News about forming an alliance with Jammat-ud-Dawah chief Saeed.
So far, there has be no talks with them but if they want to be part of the alliance, I would welcome them.Musharraf told Aaj News
The 74-year-old former ruler had last month announced the formation of a grand political alliance after a consultative meeting between representatives of around two dozen political parties.
However, several parties dissociated themselves from Musharraf's Awami Ittehad alliance.
"No one has made as many sacrifices in Kashmir as the LeT, yet the international community called its activities terrorism, but ignored the political situation in Kashmir," he said.
No matter what other people say, what is happening in Kashmir should not be termed as terrorism. At least we should not call it that. These organisations are NGOs working for the welfare of Pakistan. These are not in favour of Taliban and Al Qaeda, why are we branding them as ‘terror groups’?” India wants to blacklist them as they are doing good work in Kashmir.Pervez Musharraf to Aaj News
Saeed last week unveiled his political ambitions by formally announcing that his JuD will contest the general elections in Pakistan in 2018 under the banner of the Milli Muslim League, which is yet to be registered with the Election Commission.
The banned JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed.
Musharraf’s comments came days after he called himself the "biggest supporter" of the LeT and its founder Hafiz Saeed, and had said he backs the terror group's role in "suppressing" the Indian Army in Kashmir.
The JuD chief, who carries a bounty of USD 10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities, walked free on 24 November after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under detention since January this year.
India had expressed outrage over Pakistan's decision to release Saeed, calling it an attempt by Islamabad to mainstream proscribed terrorists and a reflection of its continuing support to non-state actors.
The JuD was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.
The LeT was banned in Pakistan, and the decision to ban the terror outfit in Pakistan was taken by the Musharraf government.
When asked about it, Musharraf said he banned the terror group under "different circumstances" without elaborating further.
Musharraf is facing a slew of court cases after returning from five years of self-exile in Dubai to contest the general elections in 2013 which he lost.
Musharraf, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, claimed that he was ready to face all charges as the courts are not under "Nawaz Sharif's control anymore".
(With inputs from PTI)
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