J&K militancy not jehad: Shahi Imam
18 October 2001
The Times of India
NILANJANA BHADURI JHA
NEW DELHI: The Shahi Imam of Delhi''s Jama Masjid has said the militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is not jehad since innocent people are being killed.''What is happening in Kashmir is not jehad... the militants are killing innocents and that is wrong. Islam does not allow this'', he said.In an exclusive interview with Times News Network, he also lambasted Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir. US also came in for criticism for its ''double standards'' in bombing Afghanistan but refusing to say a word on Pak-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir.Referring to US Secretary of State Colin Powell''s visit to the sub-continent this week, Syed Ahmed Bukhari asked ''If Afghanistan has given shelter to terrorists, so has Pakistan. Why did Powell not say a word about cross-border terrorism in Kashmir? Or assure India that it would help combat terrorism in Kashmir?''The Imam said the US was the ''biggest terrorist of all'' having supported terror across the world, including Pakistan.Speaking on Kashmir, he said, ''We are against the excesses of the Indian forces in Kashmir, but do not condone the terrorism there''. He said Indian Muslims had nothing to do with Pakistan. ''We chose to live here after Independence and participated in the freedom struggle. This is our nation.''The Imam has courted controversy over the last month with his anti-US utterances; many prominent Muslims felt Bukhari''s statements will further alienate the minorities and that his utterances had an anti- national tenor.Cut to the quick, Bukhari said much was being made of his anti-US statements but these statements could not be considered anti-national. ''I am against anything that weakens my country. The Indian government made a big mistake by offering all help to the US. You cannot use a terrorist (referring to the USA) to beat back terrorism.''Bukhari tore apart Powell''s insistence that Pakistan and India resolve the Kashmir issue through talks. ''So why did not the US talk to the Taliban? They preach one thing and practice quite another,'' he said, again referring to the US.The Imam said he spoke for the world''s Muslims when he said Osama bin Laden was not guilty. ''Does Osama become guilty just because US says so? If Osama did it (attacks on US) then the US should allow his trial by Islamic law in an OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) member country.''Osama, said Bukhari, had become a hero to Muslims the world over. Osama, according to the Imam, had been elevated to that status by America, which had condemned him without fair trial or ''even a shred of evidence.''OIC members, he said, were being forced to support the US due to political considerations, but their people were not with them. ''Till Osama bin Laden is proved guilty all Muslims are with him'', he said.The Imam also painted the Taliban in heroic hue. ''The Taliban''s courage in the face of an enormous enemy had to be admired.... I salute their courage'', he said.Directly in his line of attack was also Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, whom he accused of betraying Afghanistan by supporting the US.The Imam predicted a quick demise for Musharraf''s regime. The military leader, he said, had become intensely unpopular with his country''s people and the 50 lakh Afghan refugees who lived in Pakistan. ''Even half of the Pakistan Army was against him'', the Imam claimed.''Musharraf thinks he''s beaten India in garnering US favour, but he is trapped. His regime will not last long after supporting the US action in Afghanistan,'' Bukhari contended.