Lahore: As Indian and Pakistani businessmen discussed ways to boost bilateral trade at a hotel in Lahore on Tuesday, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed led a rally and warned traders against doing business with India.
Businessmen from the two countries gathered in the cool environs of Pearl Continental Hotel while Saeed led the rally opposing peace with India at a venue hardly a kilometre away.
He warned Pakistani businessmen not to trade with Indians, claiming this would lead to the "economic murder" of Pakistan. A sizeable number of workers of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah joined the rally that was organised under the banner of the Defa-e-Pakistan Council.
Waving banners and placards, the activists shouted slogans against Pakistani businessmen and politicians for extending a "hand of friendship" to an enemy country.
In his address, Saeed said some elements were conspiring against Pakistan in the name of forging peace with India. "If they are interested to boost economic ties with neighbouring countries, they should prefer China. I want to tell Pakistani businessmen that we are not against trade with neighbouring countries. But I appeal to them, do not do it with India," he said.
Saeed said the Pakistani government, politicians and businessmen should tell India that there will be "no peace and no trade" unless disputes over Kashmir and sharing of river waters are resolved.
"We are against giving Most Favoured Nation- status to India," he said. Saeed further said he was ready to face charges against him in any international court.
"If the US or India has any evidence against me regarding my involvement in the Mumbai attacks, it should present it in the international court of law. I will fight the case," he added.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar are among the Pakistani leaders who addressed the high-profile business conference.
The protest by Saeed came hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described him as "one of the principal architects" of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.