Karachi/Dubai: Pakistan's former ruler Pervez Musharraf has flaunted his rapport with the Lashkar-e-Toiba and its founder Hafiz Saeed and said he backs the banned terror group's role in "suppressing" the Indian Army in Kashmir.
"The Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jamaat-ud Dawa are fond of me," Musharraf told the Pakistani channel ARY News.
Asked if he "liked" Saeed too, the retired general said: "Yes and I have met with him."
"Because I have always been in favour of an action in Kashmir and I have always been favouring for pressuring the Indian Army in Kashmir. This (LeT) is the biggest force and they have been declared terrorists by India along with the US," he added. . Yes, they (the Lashkar) are involved in Kashmir but in Kashmir it is between us and India."
The 74-year-old, now in self-imposed exile in Dubai, said he has always been in favour of "action" in Jammu and Kashmir and "suppressing (the) Indian Army in Kashmir".
The comments came days after Saeed, whom India accuses of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, walked free after a Pakistani judicial board decided not to detain him further, rejecting the government's plea to extend the detention. The Lashkar boss had been under house arrest since January this year.
Musharraf, who ousted then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999 before becoming President in June 2001, said he was aware that he was also liked by the Lashkar and the Jammat-ud-Dawa, the group Saeed heads in Pakistan. The JuD is believed to be a front organisation for the Lashkar.
When pointed out that it was his government that had banned the Lashkar, Musharraf said the decision had come under "different circumstances" but did not elaborate.
India has expressed outrage over the decision of the judicial board to release Saeed, calling it an attempt by Pakistan to mainstream banned terrorists and a reflection of its continuing support to non-state actors.
The US too has said there would be repercussions for America-Pakistan relations unless Islamabad took action to detain and charge Saeed, and announced a $10-million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
Saeed, placed on a terrorism black list by the UN in December 2008, has filed a petition to de-list his name. PTI