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WASHINGTON: The 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai have done an irreparable damage to the Kashmir cause and tarnished Pakistan’s image as well, says former foreign secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan.

In November 2008, militants carried out 12 coordinated attacks in Mumbai, killing 164 people. The attacks drew widespread global condemnation and India used the attackers’ alleged link to Lashkar-e-Taiba for blaming Pakistan.

Islamabad strongly rejected the Indian claim but the accusation did hurt its image in world capitals.

“Besides tarnishing Pakistan’s image, the attacks also did an irreparable damage to the Kashmir cause,” said Mr Khan while addressing a gathering at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington on Sunday night.

The former foreign secretary referred to a recent edict by the Imam of Kaaba, saying that “Islam does not allow private individuals and groups” to declare jihad. “It’s only a government that has the authority to declare jihad,” the imam added.

Former foreign secretary says the 2008 attacks tarnished Pakistan’s image

Mr Khan, who was addressing a Kashmir Day event, said that mistakes of these militant groups could not be used to weaken “the indigenous and legitimate freedom movement” in Kashmir, as “not a single Kashmiri supports the Indian occupation”.

Ambassador Touqir Hussain, another senior Pakistani diplomat, who now teaches diplomacy at the Georgetown University, Washington, emphasised the need to provide political and moral support to the Kashmiri struggle and noted that “the Kashmiri youths are already taking the ownership of the freedom movement”.

Mr Hussain warned that as US interests brought Washington closer to New Delhi, “Kashmir has become a victim of the geo-politics of the region”.

He also referred to a recent statement by America’s UN envoy Nikki Haley, saying that Washington has asked the Indians to keep an eye on Pakistan.

Mr Hussain said that people like her were trying to diminish Pakistan’s influence to help India suppress the Kashmiri struggle “but New Delhi should remember that empire mightier than India have fallen because of their overreach and this can happen to India too if it continued to ignore the grievances of the Kashmiri people”.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhary said that the Indian government was using brutal violence to suppress the Kashmiri freedom movement but all such efforts would fail because “the Kashmiri desire for freedom cannot be suppressed”.

A Kashmir speaker, Sardar Zulfiqar Khan, noted that people of Kashmir and Pakistan were united against the Indian tyranny.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2017