Former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf has said he is open to forming a political alliance with Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and its chief Hafiz Saeed.
“If it is meant to be, it will be,” Musharraf said as he appeared on Aaj News for an interview on Sunday.
“There have been no talks yet, but if they want to be included in the alliance, by all means, I will welcome them,” Musharraf said, referring to his recently announced 23-party ‘grand alliance’.
Saeed recently announced that he will contest Pakistan’s general elections next year for the “Kashmir cause.”
When asked about the possible international repercussions his statements in favour of the proscribed group could have for the country, the former president said, “This is our country […] we are aware of the internal situation in the country, the people in it and if they are good or bad.”
“I spoke about Hafiz Saeed and I will say it proudly that LeT and JuD are both very good organisations of Pakistan,” Musharraf added.
“People who are scared of India and other powerful countries should stop running Pakistan,” he said not ruling out an alliance with Hafiz Saeed for the general election in 2018.
“So far, there has be no talks with them but if they want to be part of the alliance, I would welcome them,” he added.
“In 2005, I saw that they were the best engineers. They did the best work at the time of the earthquake [in Islamabad].”
“They are not in favour of Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Why are we pushing them to the wall? They have religious followers, youngsters who are religious.”
“They are not terrorists and we should tell [this to] America and the world,” Musharraf said.
He added that Saeed should be given credit for employing his followers in welfare organisations and preventing them from “taking up weapons and joining the Taliban.”
Musharraf’s recent comments in favour of LeT and JuD come in the wake of Hafiz Saeed’s release from house arrest. USA and India have shared their “deep concerns” with Pakistan over the the release of the JuD chief, who carries a bounty of $10 million announced by Washington for his alleged role in terror activities. He had said he was the “biggest supporter of Lashkar” and had always “favoured action in Kashmir” through militant groups to “suppress Indian army.”