The announcement that India has proposed talks with Pakistan ironically came on a day that saw a massive show of strength by proscribed terror groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, in Muzaffarabad to galvanize the ``freedom movement'' in Jammu and Kashmir.
If there was any enthusiasm over US director of national intelligence Dennis Blair's statement before the Senate that Pakistan looked upon these groups as strategic assets against India, it was quickly wiped off by the terror rally which was addressed by terrorists wanted in India.
"Islamabad's conviction that militant groups are an important part of its strategic arsenal to counter India's military and economic advantages will continue to limit Pakistan's incentive to pursue an across-the-board effort against extremism," Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. "Islamabad's strategic approach risks helping al-Qaida sustain its safe haven because some groups supported by Pakistan provide assistance to al- Qaida," he said, adding that Pakistan believes that it does not need to confront groups that do not threaten it directly.
Blair went on to say that Afghan Taliban, al-Qaida, and Pakistani militant groups continue to use Pakistan as a safe haven for organizing, training and planning attacks ``against the United States and our allies in Afghanistan, India and Europe".
In fact, Blair's assertions were manifested in the rally in Muzaffarabad in which members of LeT, JuD and Hizbul Mujahideen actively participated. There was no crackdown by Pakistan agencies on militant leaders who openly vowed jihad against ``Indian occupation of Kashmir''.
"The Kashmir issue cannot be resolved through dialogue. Jihad (holy war) is the only solution to free Kashmir from the Indian yoke," said Syed Salahuddin, chairman of the 16-party United Jehad Council. "I want to tell my brothers across the border that we will remain with you until India quits Kashmir," added Salahuddin, the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen.
Salahuddin demanded lifting of restrictions on JuD and immediate release of its leaders because "Indian propaganda against JuD had flopped". A statement issued after the meeting said, "Jihad will continue until India ends its occupation of Kashmir. If Pakistan cannot offer material support, it should extend its political and moral support to the Kashmir movement."
The meet was held on the eve of Kashmir Solidarity Day which Pakistan observes annually as a mark of support for the so-called freedom movement. Reports from Pakistan said that over 6,000 people participated in the meet.
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