Pakistani Hardliners Vow Holy War To Liberate Kashmir

Pakistani Hardliners Vow Holy War To Liberate Kashmir

23 March 2010
AFP
Sajjad Qayyum

Kolti: Pakistani hardliners on Tuesday vowed to wage a holy war to liberate the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir from Indian control. About 5,000 people attended a rally in the town of Kotli in Pakistan-administered Kashmir about 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Islamabad, shouting: 'We are ready for jihad (holy war), we are ready for jihad!' Kashmir, split between Pakistan and India and claimed by both in full, has triggered two of the three wars the two countries have fought since 1947. The gathering marked the anniversary of the 1940 Pakistan Resolution, in which Indian Muslims decided to struggle for a separate country following independence from British rule. Pakistan was born seven years later. India and Pakistan have remained arch foes, with relations between the South Asian nuclear-armed rivals further strained since the 2008 attacks on India's financial capital Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani militants. In late February, the two sides held their first official talks since the Mumbai siege, but they ended with few concrete developments. 'Diplomacy, talks and negotiations spanned over several decades have not worked,' said Syed Salahuddin, chairman of the United Jihad Council, which consists of 16 Islamist groups, militant outfits and political parties. 'The only way to liberate Kashmir is jihad,' said Salahuddin, who also leads Hizbul Mujahedin, a militant group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir. He denied that the jihadi groups were behind attacks within Pakistan. More than 3,100 people have been killed in suicide attacks and bomb blasts across the nation since July 2007, which are blamed on Islamist militants opposed to the government's alliance with the United States. Tuesday's rally was also attended by leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a charity widely viewed as a front for banned Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which India and the United States blamed for the Mumbai attacks. A resolution adopted after the meeting said: 'Jihad will continue until India ends its occupation of Kashmir.'


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