April 1998 News

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Pakistan Minister Visits Lashkar-e-Toiba Camp

22nd April 1998

The visit of a top minister in the Nawaz Sharif Cabinet to the head quarters of an extremist organisation, which reportedly trains militants and sends them to Kashmir, has once again confirmed Pakistan`s support to militancy in the Valley.

Information Minister Mushahid Hussain, along with Punjab Province Governor Shahid Hamid andother provincial ministers, visited the head quarters of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) in Muridke, about 30 km from Lahore, a couple of days ago and appreciated the work of the organisation, media reports said.

Mr Hussain not only hailed the activities of Markaz Dawa al Irshad (Centre for Preaching), which trains and maintains Lashkar-e-Taiba, but also said the true concept of Islamic 'jehad` (holy war) was being taught by the Markaz, Urdu daily 'Khabren` said.

Asked whether his visit to the Markaz was aimed at conveying a strong message to India, Mr Hussain reportedly replied, "The message has already been conveyed on April 6," referring to the test firing of the Ghauri missile.

The BBC also took note of Mr Hussain`s visit, describing it as "extraordinary" as Lashkar-e- Taiba has been claiming responsibility for militant activities in the Kashmir Valley.

This is the first visit to the Markaz headquarters by a senior Pakistan minister in the last 10 years of itsexistence.

Pakistan has always been rejecting India`s allegations about its involvement in militant activities in the Kashmir Valley, stressing it was providing only "moral, political and diplomatic" support to"Kashmiris struggle for freedom".

Markaz chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, said during Mr Hussain`s visit such trips by high-level government representatives would remove all misconceptions about the organisation.

He virtually confirmed Markaz`s involvement in militancy in Kashmir saying "after the liberation of kashmir", his organisation would launch a 'jehad` (holy war) for the "liberation" of 20 crore Indian muslims who he claimed had been living "a second and third grade life".

Mr Hussain was quoted by another Urdu daily 'Pakistan` as saying his visit to the Markaz had strengthened his Islamic faith and that the way they were promoting 'jehad` must be appreciated.

Only a couple of months ago, leading monthly magazine 'Herald` had carried a cover story on theactivites of Markaz in which it had said the organisation was regularly imparting arms training to students and then sending them to Kashmir to fight the Indian army.


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