Lashkar not a Kashmiri outfit, says JKLF
23 December 2001
ISLAMABAD: The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has taken exception to the description of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as an extremist group based in Kashmir by the U.S. President, Mr. George Bush and said that it was not a Kashmiri organisation. In a letter to Mr. Bush, with a copy to the Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, the JKLF chairman, Mr. Amanullah Khan, said Kashmiris were surprised to hear Mr. Bush saying that the LeT was a Kashmir-based terrorist organisation. The comments made by Mr. Bush describing LeT as a Kashmir-based group has not only surprised India but also Islamabad-based diplomats. The inference drawn by the diplomatic core is that the U.S. was trying to send across a message to New Delhi that it does not subscribe to the view that Pakistan was behind the December 13 attack on Parliament. Mr. Bush made these comments on December 21 while announcing the decision to freeze the assets of Umma Tameer-e-Nau (UTN), an NGO established by two retired Pakistan nuclear scientists who have been accused of proving information about nuclear weapons to Al-Queda and LeT. The description of LeT by Mr. Bush contradicts the fact-sheet released by the White House on the outfit. It said LeT is the armed wing of the Pakistan-based religious organisation, Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad, a Sunni anti-U.S. outfit founded in 1989. It said LeT is one of the three largest and best trained groups fighting in Kashmir against India and is not connected to a political party. The LeT has conducted a number of operations against Indian troops and civilian targets in Kashmir since 1993 and is suspected of eight separate attacks in August that killed 100, mostly Hindu Indians. ''LeT is based in Muridke (near Lahore) and Muzaffarabad. LeT trains its militants in mobile training camps across Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Afghanistan. LeT collects donations from Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom, Islamic NGOs and Pakistani and Kashmir businessmen.'' In his letter the JKLF chiefsaid the only peaceful, practicable, equitable, democratic and permanent solution to the Kashmir issue was that the divided Jammu and Kashmir State be re-united under international supervision, and made a fully independent country with a democratic, federal and secular system of government and having friendly relations with both India and Pakistan.