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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 05:56 GMT 06:56 UK
Pakistani minister supports Kashmir 'jihad'
Pakistan's minister for religious affairs has said that militant groups fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir are involved in what he described as a holy war, or jihad.

The minister, Mahmood Ghazi, said they were fighting against an unjust and un-Islamic rule, and he likened their campaign to the Palestinian uprising.

Mr Ghazi added that such a holy war was in accordance with the teachings of the prophet Mohammed.

The minister's comments are at variance with the stated policy of the government, which says the armed insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir is a struggle for the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people.

Speaking about the large number of religious schools, or madrassahs, in the country, Mr Ghazi denied they were promoting armed militancy.

He said that 99% were imparting only religious teachings.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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