Srinagar: Pakistan on Tuesday slammed the designation of supporters of the Kashmiri right to self-determination as “terrorists”, terming it ‘completely unjustified’.
The statement by Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) comes a day after the United States (US) State Department designated Hizb ul Mujahideen’s supreme commander Syed Salahuddin as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT)” and imposed sanctions on him.
The decision drew criticism and condemnation from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), with Kashmiris chiding the US President Donald Trump’s administration for “equating their legitimate struggle for internationally acknowledged right to self-determination with terrorism”.
“The designation of individuals supporting the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified,” FO Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in a statement without naming Salahuddin or the US.
The development surfaced hours ahead of a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.
The FO reiterated Pakistan’s longstanding commitment to countering terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations”, adding that the Kashmiri struggle “remains legitimate”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted “the gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people” in, saying that Indian security forces had “intensified their brutal policies of repression in the region, including the use of pellet guns, extrajudicial killings, rape, use of human shields, arbitrary arrests, undocumented disappearances and other forms of violence and curbs to freedom”.
Zakaria asserted that Pakistan would continue to extend “political, diplomatic and moral support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people for the realisation of the right to self-determination and the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions”.
“Mohammad Yusuf Shah, AKA Syed Salahuddin, is the senior leader of the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). In September 2016, Salahuddin vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict, threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers, and vowed to turn the Kashmir valley into a graveyard for Indian forces.
Under Salahuddin’s tenure as senior HM leader, HM has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people,” US Department of State said in a statement.
Salahuddin, 71, has five sons and two daughters who live in the Kashmir valley.
He hails from central Kashmir’s Budgam district, and had moved to Pakistan administered Kashmir in or around 1989 after he contested the Kashmir Assembly elections on a Muslim United Front (MUF) ticket in 1987.
Salahuddin finished his Masters in Political Science at Srinagar University in 1971, where he wrote several poems.
He later jointed Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI) after concluding his education and contested state elections in 1987.
He was arrested from inside the ticket counting hall in Srinagar and eventually released in 1989.
The MUF alleged widespread rigging of polls by the NC-Congress alliance led by Dr Farooq Abdullah.