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7241Year on, Quake Jihad Praised in Kashmir

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  • Zafar Khan
    Oct 5, 2006
      Year on, Quake Jihad Praised in Kashmir
      Islamonline.net & News Agencies
      Thu., Oct. 05, 2006


      MUZAFFARABAD — One year of "humanitarian jihad"
      helping the survivors of last year's deadly Kashmir
      earthquake is winning Kashmiri groups the minds and
      hearts of the people and the praise of the

      "We are very grateful to Jamaat-ud-Dawa for their
      hospitality and their help," Zulakhian Bibi, a
      55-year-old woman recovering from multiple leg breaks,
      told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Thursday, October

      Bibi is one of many patients treated in a tin-roofed
      hospital built by Jamaat-ud-Dawa organization in
      Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled

      A massive signboard headed "Dawa Field Surgical
      Hospital" says it has the city's only orthopaedic
      surgeon, two operating theatres, a blood bank, free
      medicine and, of course, a mosque.

      A powerful quake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale
      had hit northwestern Pakistan and Kashmir on October
      2005, killing more than 74,000 people and making 3.5
      million others homeless.

      Kashmiri Muslim groups, battling India for the
      independence of the Muslim-populated Himalayan region,
      were the first on the scene after the quake, arriving
      hours before the army and days before the United
      Nations despite losing dozens of their own fighters.

      Their members, many commando jackets and sometimes
      carrying Kalashnikovs, rode in the back of pick-up
      trucks to hand out supplies, help dig up survivors and
      collect bodies for burial.

      In the past 12 months -- now in civilian clothes and
      with no sign of any weapons -- they have set up
      clinics, tent camps and schools.

      Not Terrorists

      Banned by the United States over alleged terror links,
      many of the Kashmiri groups suffered to help quake

      "When the American doctor teams came over after the
      earthquake they were reluctant to work with Dawa
      people," said Ghulamullah Azad, Jamaat-ud-Dawa's
      Kashmir spokesman.

      "But after some days they were very friendly. They
      appreciated the level of our work."

      The United States blacklisted Dawa as a "terrorist
      organization" in April.

      Asked about the US move, Azad replied: "We don't
      bother about it because we are doing something for the
      cause of humanity. We fail to understand why America
      considers us its enemy."

      Dawa Field Surgical Hospital administrator Basharat
      echoed the same position.

      "We are not afraid of the US ban…They have got the
      wrong perception about Jamaat-ud-Dawa."

      Jamaat-ud-Dawa is said to be the political wing of
      Lashkar-e-Taiba, which fights Indian rule in the other
      sector of disputed Kashmir.

      President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally, has refused
      to take any action against the group, while
      authorities here have showered praise on groups
      involved in quake relief.

      The prime minister of Pakistani-administered Kashmir
      showed his appreciation by officially opening the Dawa
      hospital earlier this year, while quake survivors
      protested when they heard about the US ban.

      Pakistan insists the groups working in the quake zone
      are only charities and that since 2001 it has banned
      the main militant groups and closed their camps.

      Kashmir is divided between nuclear-armed rivals
      Pakistan and India but claimed by both in full.

      Since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, they
      have fought two of their three wars over the
      Muslim-majority disputed Himalayan region.

      From April 1948 to 1957, the UN passed a series of
      resolutions, affirming the right of self-determination
      of the people of Kashmir in accordance with a
      referendum to be held under international auspices.