India blasts Palestinian envoy’s appearance with radical cleric linked to Mumbai terror attack

Due to India’s objections, the Palestinian envoy to Pakistan was recalled after he appeared at a rally with a Muslim cleric linked to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

The Palestinians have withdrawn their envoy to Pakistan after India objected to his appearance at a rally with a radical Muslim cleric linked to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

India lodged a protest with the Palestinians Saturday, calling the envoy’s association with Saeed “unacceptable.”

Palestinian envoy Walid Abu Ali shared the stage with Hafiz Saeed, the head of the hard-line Jamaat-ud-Dawa movement, at Friday’s rally, which was held to protest US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The rally in Rawalpindi, attended by thousands, was organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council, an alliance of religious parties dominated by Saeed’s group. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is believed to be a front for Lashker-e-Taiba, an Islamic terror group that fights Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir, and which was blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people.

Saeed, the founder of Lashker-e-Taiba, is wanted by the US, which has offered a $10 million reward for his arrest, but Pakistan has refused extradition requests and allows him to operate relatively freely. He was recently placed under house arrest for 11 months but was released after a court ruled in his favor.

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Saeed denies involvement in the 2008 attacks, and Pakistan says India has not provided enough evidence to charge him. US officials have long accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists, allegations denied by Islamabad.

India was among 128 countries to vote against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital recently. In a statement Saturday addressed to India, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the envoy’s participation “in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism” was “an unintended mistake, but not justified.” It said the envoy has been recalled.

“In that regard the State of Palestine affirms its stand with the Republic of India in dealing with its terrorist threats, as our nations are real partners in the war against terrorism,” the statement read.

However, it added, “The State of Palestine highly appreciates India’s support in its tireless efforts to end the Israeli occupation and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine on the 1967 boarders with East Jerusalem as its capital and this is especially seen in the honorable position that India has taken by voting in favor of the resolution in the United Nation General Assembly last week.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry defended the envoy, saying it welcomed his “active participation in events organized to express solidarity with the people of Palestine.”