Roznama Ummat carried this uniquely interesting narration by Jamaat ud-Dawwa’s amir, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed on the birth of his organization, its association with the Lashkar-e-Taiba and his thoughts on Kashmir. Excerpts follow (اردو):
Jamaat ud-Dawwa (JuD) was formed in 1985 by five or six of us friends. The initial group included the likes of Zafar Iqbal, who was at university with me, and Yahya Mujahid. Our goal was to write “tableeghi” literature and circulate it to the public. Later, we founded a magazine called the “ud-Dawwa,” which eventually gained popularity. When a ban on the magazine was enforced during the Musharraf regime, our circulation was about 150,000 per month.
Very soon, the JuD was being supported by leading scholars in the land, including my uncle Hafiz Abdullah Bahawalpuri. Other early supporters included Sheikh Badiuddin Rashidi, Hafiz Abdul Mannan Noorpuri, and Hafiz Abdul Islam bin Muhammad.
We have always supported the rights of the Kashmiris to self-determination, and have labeled India an occupying force. 1990-91 saw the birth of organized “armed resistance” against India’s occupation. Among the organizations fighting India’s occupation was a group called Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). This organization and its setup was based exclusively in Kashmir. There was never any relationship between the JuD and the LeT, nor was any leader of the JuD ever the head of the LeT. But a section of India’s media has consistently spread propaganda alleging that I am the leader of the LeT.
When Musharraf banned the LeT, it was alleged that the Jamaat ud-Dawwa was created as a cover organization for the LeT. However, the JuD was created decades ago in 1985. There is no doubt that the JuD, like the LeT, supports the achievement of “azaadi” in Kashmir via jihad; but we are not associated with the LeT. [روزنامہ امّت]
Hafiz Saeed is back in the news, leading a rag-tag outfit of far-right groups and former heads the ISI, under the banner of Difa-e-Pakistan Council (Defense of Pakistan Council). News reports also suggest that Mr. Saeed is considering joining mainstream politics and transforming the identity of the JuD from being a “charitable organization” to a political party. Mr. Saeed also recently shared a dais with SM Qureshi, former Pakistani foreign minister and now a member of Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf party, which has a conveniently vague association with the Difa-e-Pakistan Council.
Renouncing the LeT, which many in India, the U.S. and perhaps even in Pakistan, associate with the horrors of 26/11, may be the first of many steps in the transformation of a mass murderer into mainstream politician. Or perhaps it is meant to disassociate himself from any future acts of terror imposed on the people of India. Clearly, for all its demagoguery, the Difa-e-Pakistan Council is yet to demonstrate proof of concept. None of this augurs very well for India.