26/11: India's charges baseless, says Hafiz Saeed

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Lahore, Feb.17 (ANI): The Indian Government's charge that he masterminded the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai is unfounded and baseless, said Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammed Saeed.

Accusing New Delhi of indulging in fabricated propoganda, Saeed demanded concrete proof of his reported involvement in the said attack that claimed the lives of over 160 people and injured more than 300.

"India always indulges in propaganda and has always fabricated false reports about me and that's how India has been able to use international pressure against us," Saeed said in an exclusive interview to Al Jazeera here.

Security experts have for long suspected the Jamaat-ud-Dawah of having strong links with Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India accuses of carrying out the Mumbai attacks that targeted two luxury hotels, an Orthodox Jewish centre and several other public places.

Saeed, a well-known political figure in Pakistan, who is wanted by both India and the US, was placed under house arrest by the Pakistani Army on December 11, 2008, after the UN declared that Jamaat-ud-Dawah was a front for Lashkar.

"But the Punjab High Court exonerated us and they concluded that neither I nor the Jamaat-ud-Dawah had any involvement in the Mumbai attacks," he told Al Jazeera.

Pakistan made several arrests in connection with the Mumbai attacks, but no criminal charges were brought against Saeed.

In a recent interview to Al Jazeera, P Chidambaram, India's interior, alleged that the training for the Mumbai attacks was personally co-ordinated by Saeed.

"Hafiz Saeed selected the trainees and gave them new names. [Ajmal] Kasab was given a new name, Abu Mujahid, and that name was given by Saeed," Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram was referring to Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving suspect in the Mumbai attacks.

When asked to comment on the accusations, Saeed said: "I never saw him [Kasab]. In fact, it was from media in India that I discovered he was a Pakistani national.

"I have never met Kasab nor have I ever known him and I have said this on many occasions. This is baseless propaganda without an iota of truth."

Propaganda was also his response to whether he favoured the idea of having open dialogue with India.

"I never said no to dialogue - that is propaganda. I have always talked about having open dialogue, but it needs to be productive, it needs to obtain results," Saeed said.

"India has never had a sincere interest in opening dialogue. When they do, it is because of national interest. If India wants to restore confidence in opening dialogue with Pakistan, then India must accept Kashmir as a core dispute."

"India saturated all of Kashmir with military personnel. They must change the situation on the ground, withdraw their forces and set a timeframe for such a withdrawal," he concluded. (ANI)

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