Lashkar, Jaish Our Friends: Geelani
27 September 2003
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Fire-brand Jamaat-e-Islami leader and chairman of a faction of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani has termed pan-Islamic militant outfits Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) as 'friends' and said their actions are within the parameters of 'humanity and morality'. In an interview to a Pakistani weekly The Friday Times, Geelani said, 'Lashker and Jaish are our friends. They are our benefactors. They have been sacrificing their lives for us. And they have never acted in a manner that is against humanity or morality.' The answer came from Geelani in reply to a question whether non-Kashmir militant outfits such as Lashker and Jaish had hijacked the indigenous struggle of Kashmiris. The statement of Geelani has raised eyebrows as it was just short of saying that the suicide attacks carried out by these militant outfits in which innocent women and children fell prey to their bullets were within the framework of 'humanity and morality'. Taking a dig at the present Jamaat chief Nazir Ahmed Kashani's announcement of retiring him from JeI, Geelani said, 'The retirement philosophy is un-Islamic.' In reply to a question whether the split within Hurriyat was engineered by Pakistan, Geelani accused India of spreading this propaganda. However, the weekly narrated the incidents on September 15, the day Geelani was chosen chairman of the breakaway faction. The election of Jamaat leader was the first news on the state-run Pakistan TV. The Friday Times said that PTV remained silent about the factional fight within the amalgam. 'PTV said that the Hurriyat executive council and general council had unanimously elected Geelani which was factually incorrect. There was no mention of bitter development (within the amalgam) during past few weeks,' the weekly analysed. In reply to the question as to which was the real Hurriyat, Geelani denied that any split had at all taken place in the amalgam. 'Hurriyat has been purged of some black sheep that had emerged as its leaders during the last three years,' Geelani said. The statement could be seen as terming former chairman Abdul Gani Bhat and present incumbent Maulana Abbas Ansari as 'black sheep'. Asked whether he was happy with the Kashmir policy of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, he said, 'That's not his policy. That's Pakistan's policy. Kashmir is an issue of top priority for him.'