Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Banned Pakistan militants gather

Jamaat-ud-Dawa supporters in Muzaffarabad
Militant groups command some support in Muzaffarabad

Militant groups, some of them banned by Pakistan, have met publicly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir for the first time since Mumbai.

An alliance of 12 groups attended the meeting in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

They called on the Pakistani government to release imprisoned activists.

India has accused the Lashkar-e-Taiba group of being behind the Mumbai attack and has demanded that some of its leaders be extradited to Delhi.

More than 170 people died when 10 gunmen attacked India's financial capital in November.

India has also accused some "state elements" in Pakistan of involvement. Islamabad and Lashkar-e-Taiba deny the allegations.

Armed struggle

The BBC's Zulfiqar Ali in Muzaffarabad says that the authorities made no effort to stop the meeting, despite the ban on some of the groups taking part.

Among those attending were representatives of leading Pakistani militant groups including Jaish-e-Mohammad, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Jamat-ud-dawa, a charity linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The conference called on the ban on Jamat-ud-dawa to be lifted.


Our correspondent says that the only security at the conference was a line of policemen who surrounded the venue.

The 12 groups who attended the conference called on the Pakistani government to release about 150 Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa activists who were arrested by Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks.

Some of them also agreed on a motion which said that armed struggle was the only way to bring about a successful conclusion to the Kashmir conflict.

They also accused the Pakistani government of continuing "the failed and cowardly policies of former President [Pervez] Musharraf" in relation to the Kashmir dispute.

The meeting was organised by the United Jihad Council - an alliance of Kashmiri groups fighting Indian forces in Kashmir.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the divided region.

There has so far been no response from India to the meeting.

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