Militants meet in PoK again, vow to pursue jihad in J-K

22 April 2008
The Indian Express
Riyaz Wni

Srinagar: In the second meeting of its kind in the past one month, Pakistan-based militant groups and secessionist leaders on Monday held a conference in Muzaffarabad in PoK to resolve their commitment to revive ‘jihad’ in Kashmir. The conference, attended by United Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin, LeT chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and leaders of PoK-based Hurriyat factions, made no secret of their growing disillusionment with the new Pakistan establishment, and indicated a resolve to strike on their own. “Who says we are tired. We are not. We will continue to pursue jihad in Kashmir,” Salahuddin said at the conference titled Azam-i-Jihad (Resolve for Jihad) attended by around 1,000 militants. He called upon the PoK Government to pursue an “independent policy” on Kashmir and set aside “75 per cent of its budget for jihad in Kashmir and train its youth on war footing” for the purpose. The meeting, which comes in the wake of reports about fresh militant infiltration into Kashmir, was also a show of new-found solidarity between militant groups and the separatist politicians including moderate Hurriyat faction represented in PoK by its convenor Syed Yousuf Naseem. A number of militant leaders including Sheikh Jamil ur Rehman of Tehrik ul Mujahideen, Abdullah of Jamiat ul Mujahideen, Attiq-ur-Rehman of Harkat ul Mujahideen, Farooq Qureshi of Al Badar, Mastoid Sarfraz of Hizb-e-Islami and Uzair Ghizali of Pasban-i-Hurriyat attended the meeting. “In 2000 and 2001, our struggle had reached a decisive phase. But then President Musharraf succumbed to the international pressure following 9-11. As a result, the political and diplomatic support to our struggle declined considerably,” said Salahuddin. At the conference, those like Yousuf Naseem and the convenor of Tehreek Kashmir Ghulam Muhammad Safi, a former Jamaat-i-Islami ideologue, talked bitterly about Islamabad’s volte face. They were particularly sore about the recent visits to Pakistan by the Valley’s leaders like Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah and Zardari’s press conference with Mehbooba.