Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin designated ‘global terrorist’ by US vows to fight on
Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, declared a global terrorist by the US this week, vowed on Saturday to continue his armed struggle against Indian forces to liberate Jammu and Kashmir.
“We will not end this fight without liberating Kashmir from India,” Salahuddin, 71, told a news conference in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The United States declared Salahuddin, who also heads the Pakistan-based United Jihad Council, a “global terrorist” hours ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington on June 26, a decision the militant leader said was only made to appease India.
He said the Hizbul Mujahideen only targets Indian forces and the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda have no presence in Kashmir.
“Donald Trump’s decision will be thrown out if anyone challenges it in American courts,” Salahiuddin said. “No other Western nation has endorsed what this crazy Donald Trump has done.”
He asked the UN to implement its resolutions and give the Kashmiri people the right to vote on independence or a merger with Pakistan. He said Hizbul Mujahideen may consider peace talks with India if Russia or China can guarantee that such parleys would produce results.
Salahuddin also led a rally in Muzaffarabad and praised Pakistan for continued support in Kashmir.
Pakistan had described as “completely unjustified” the US designation of Salahuddin and reiterated its political and diplomatic support for the Kashmiri people’s “right to self-determination”.
India welcomed the US designation, saying it “vindicated” its long-standing position that cross-border terrorism perpetrated by groups based in Pakistan was behind disturbances in Kashmir.
The US decision came on a day Salahuddin issued a video message calling for a week-long protest to mark the first death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who was killed by Indian security forces on July 8 last year.
Before taking to militancy, Salahuddin contested assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 1987. He lost in the polls that were widely believed to be rigged.
The US designation of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate them and result in denial of access to the US financial system.