In a show of strength in the Pakistani capital, several banned anti-India militant groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, today vowed to take "revenge" for the execution of Afzal Guru and step up their "Jihad" in Jammu and Kashmir.
Scores of members of the groups gathered at the National Press Club for a conference organised by the United Jihad Council to pay tribute to Guru, who was hanged in a Delhi jail on Saturday for his role in the 2001 terror attack on the Indian parliament.
Chanting anti-India slogans, leaders of the LeT, JeM, Al Badr Mujahideen, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the United Jihad Council made fiery speeches in which they pledged to continue their jihad in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India.
This was the first time in the past four years that the banned groups organised a public gathering in the Pakistani capital though they have held low-key meetings in Rawalpindi and Lahore that were opened to sections of the local media.
Senior JeM leader Mufti Asghar said his group would take revenge against the Indian government and security forces for Guru's hanging. "We know how to take revenge and we will take revenge," he said.
United Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin, who also heads the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, claimed in his address that Pakistan was silent on events in Kashmir and the hanging of Guru. The mujahideen leadership, Salahuddin claimed, believed that the Kashmir issue could be settled only by jihad as talks with India were a waste of time.
However, Salahuddin was flummoxed when a journalist asked him why the United Jihad Council had not organised a gathering to pay tribute to LeT operative Ajmal Kasab after he was hanged last year.
Salahuddin claimed the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and LeT were different organisations and JuD chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed had been cleared of involvement in the Mumbai attacks by Pakistani courts.
"So why protest if they were not involved?" he added.