Press Trust of India
Thursday, December 11, 2008 12:59 PM (Islamabad)
Branded a terrorist outfit by the UN, Jamaat-ud-Dawa on Thursday sought to put up a defiant stance, claiming that it was not concerned by the international clampdown and would carry on with its activities.
Reacting to the ban imposed by the UN Securtiy Council by a unanimous decision, Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi, chief of the Jamaat in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, said, "We don't take permission from the UN or the Security Council for carrying out our activities".
He claimed his group was not involved in the Mumbai carnage but said his organisation would admit its mistakes provided it was proved that it was in any way linked to the attacks, which left a trail of death and destruction.
"We are not concerned by restrictions imposed by the UN. We don't take permission from the UN or the Security Council for carrying out our activities," Alvi said hours after Security Council proscribed the Jamaat, a front for the LeT.
Four top leaders of LeT, including its founder Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, have also been labelled as terrorists subject to sanctions.
Alvi repeatedly said the Jamaat was "not concerned" about the UN restrictions, which he claimed were imposed without evidence.
"We are saddened by the Mumbai attacks but we are not involved in such acts which lead to the murder of innocent people," he told Geo News channel.
"Our country is a member of the UN and if there are restrictions and if they act according to the law, then it's alright. If it is proved that we have done anything, we will admit it," he added.
Referring to the links between the Jamaat and the LeT, Alvi said "there was a time when everyone had links with the LeT". These links helped the LeT to establish itself in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
Alvi also claimed the Jamaat was in existence before a ban was imposed on the LeT by the Pakistan government in 2001.
At present, the Jamaat did not have any links with the LeT, he said, claiming the Lashkar had no camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Referring to Sunday's operation by security forces near Muzaffarabad that resulted in the capture of LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, Alvi claimed the troops had raided a madrassa.
Alvi also said he did not know who was arrested during the operation.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said top LeT terrorist Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, a communications expert, were among those arrested during the crackdown.
Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar has said Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Maulana Masood Azhar too has been detained.
Pakistan has pledged to act if the UN designates the Jamaat-ud-Dawah a terrorist organisation.
The Jamaat was formed by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed after the Let was banned by the Pakistan government following the attack on India's parliament.
Speaking to Geo News before the UN Security Council imposed restrictions on the Jamaat, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed said the allegations levelled by India against his group at the UN were "baseless and unfounded".
The Jamaat is a Pakistani group involved in relief and educational activities and had no links to terrorism, he said.
He said the LeT had denied its involvement in the Mumbai attacks and the Pakistan government was conducting its own investigation into the matter.
India, Saeed claimed, always resorted to "propaganda" against his group.
Asked why the Jamaat's camp in Muzaffarabad was raided by Pakistani security forces on Sunday, Saeed said the troops had conducted an operation against the office of a "Kashmiri group".
"There was no operation on any Jamaat-ud-Dawah office. As far as Zakiur Rehman (Lakhvi) is concerned, he is a leader of a Kashmiri group. He should not be linked to Jamaat-ud-Dawah," he claimed.
As usual, when under pressure, the JuD chief sought to portray both JuD and LeT as "Kashmiri groups".
He claimed it was "wrong" that Pakistan was conducting operations against "Kashmiri groups" at India's bidding.
"The operations are against Kashmiri groups. The LeT is also a Kashmiri group and it has no offices in Pakistan," he added.
The Jamaat chief claimed he had never met or seen Ajmal Amir Iman, the lone gunman captured alive by Indian security forces during the Mumbai attacks. Iman has said the group of terrorists that carried out the attack was given a motivational speech by Saeed.
"It is wrong to kill innocent people or carry out suicide attacks. This is all one-sided Indian propaganda," Saeed said.
Saeed also dismissed Prime Minister Gilani's contention that all the leaders of the LeT had joined the Jamaat. "There is no member of the LeT in the Jamaat-ud-Dawah. I was never a leader of LeT and even the (Lahore) High Court ruled there was no evidence of my links to LeT," he claimed.