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Pakistani Muslim cleric urges holy war against India

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    Pakistani Muslim cleric urges holy war against India

    Pakistani Muslim cleric urges holy war against India

    ISLAMABAD - A Kashmiri militant freed by New Delhi to end an eight-day hijack called upon his followers Thursday to wage holy war against India.

    ``Muslims, be prepared for war, be prepared for jihad (holy war),'' Mohammad Masood Azhar told a cheering crowd of several hundred people at a mosque in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

    ``If India wages a war against us (Pakistan), then 500,000 fearless mujahideen (holy warriors) will cross into India,'' said Azhar, who spent more than six years in Indian jails.

    It was Azhar's latest appearance in Pakistan since he was freed on Dec. 31 with two other activists in exchange for 155 hostages held at gunpoint on an Indian Airlines plane at Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan.

    Dozens of heavily-armed men in camouflage surrounded Azhar on his first trip to the capital after his release from a prison in the Indian-controlled part of the disputed Kashmir region.

    Azhar is visiting various cities to lobby for Kashmiri groups fighting Indian forces and to invite Muslims to enlist.


    The cleric was in Lahore, capital of the Punjab province, Wednesday where dozens of bearded and armed men welcomed his arrival.

    Tension between arch-rivals Pakistan and India have been high since the hijacking drama that started on Dec. 24 and ended in Kandahar on Dec. 31.

    Five hijackers vanished after the exchange of prisoners leading to accusations by India that they had crossed into Pakistan.

    U.S. officials in Washington have said they believe that the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen group, of which Azhar is reportedly a member, was behind the hijacking.

    But the group's leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil denied any involvement in the hijacking and told Reuters Wednesday that Azhar had left the group about three years ago. ``He (Azhar) no longer has any links with us,'' Khalil said.

    Since his release, Azhar has turned into a hero and receives warm welcomes from Muslim clerics wherever he goes.

    Azhar said India must vacate the 45 percent of Kashmir it rules or be prepared for an endless war by militant groups.


    ``And if India is toying with the idea that it can hold a war against Pakistan, it must remember that Pakistan has Muslims, which can ward off any aggression... and we also have Taleban,'' he said.

    Azhar did not spell out if he meant the Taleban Islamic movement which rules more than 90 percent of Afghanistan, or students of religious schools, who are also called Taleban.

    Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947 and were almost tipped into their fourth war over the Himalayan region last July.

    New Delhi accused Islamabad of sending regular troops into Kargil in Indian north Kashmir but Pakistan said they were Muslim freedom fighters.

    Since the Kargil clash militant groups, some of which are based in Pakistan, have whipped up their anti-India campaign and openly invited people to join the ``Kashmir jihad.''

    a country of how many million? a few hundred people cheering him on? more people cheer a guy showing monkey tricks ona street corner in saddar area of karachi.

    His popularity is overstated beyond his cult.
    I did not even know who he was, I even asked my relatives in Pakistana ad they were like who is that? to which I had to tell them that was the dewd who was freed.

    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


      And is Azhar gonna be the commander-in-chief of the half a million(yet to be recruited!) strong mujahideen force?

      Fata Morgana


        Maulana Azhar was a relatively unknown figure in Pakistan till the hijacking. Since than he seems to be more well known with the Indians than Pakistanis.



          [This message has been edited by sabah (edited January 28, 2000).]