Pakistan’s religious affairs minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, a member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, shared the stage with Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed at an event in Islamabad that focused on the Kashmir issue.
Several pro-Jamaat-ud-Dawah Twitter handles quoted Qadri as saying that he attended the all-party conference organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) on Sunday on the instructions of the prime minister as its agenda represented the “sentiments of the whole Pakistani nation”.
Qadri’s presence at the event came just a day after Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at the UN General Assembly that the country “will continue to strengthen our counter-terrorism frameworks and regimes”. Qadri was seen in photos and video footage seated close to Saeed.
Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, carries a $10 million bounty on his head. The DPC is an alliance of some 40 religious and extremist groups.
Qadri told the gathering that Pakistan is an atomic power and will respond to any “mischief” by India in a befitting manner. “Our military is ready, don’t be under the impression that there won’t be any response to a surgical strike,” he was quoted as saying.
“I joined this conference on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he was quoted as saying. Reports said Qadri also signed a declaration adopted at the meeting to “declare India a terrorist state”.
Though Pakistan wants to resolve all political and territorial issues through dialogue, the Indian response was “stubborn”, he alleged. “They are reluctant to come across the table for negotiations,” he added.
Qadri said the government had highlighted Indian alleged involvement in terror activities in Pakistan at the UN General Assembly. India has dismissed foreign minister Qureshi’s allegations in this regard.
The meet was organised by the DPC to discuss alleged “Indian threats”, the situation in Kashmir and other issues.
In his address at the meet, Saeed alleged the BJP wants to fight next year’s general elections by “uniting the Hindu votes and oppressing Muslims” and on the “basis of enmity towards Pakistan”.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had mounted a frontal attack on Pakistan at the UN General Assembly on Saturday, calling it “an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity,” accusing it of funding and glorifying terrorists and warning of a “conflagration” if terrorism is not rooted out.