Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) chief Syed Salahuddin has said he is not bothered by the United States labelling him a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ (SDGT).
However, he said that Pakistan was pursuing a “weak Kashmir policy” in the face of political chaos and mounting international pressure.
“Pakistan has just ignored the Trump administration’s wrong-headed decision of terming a ‘freedom fighter’ a ‘terrorist,’” which violates United Nations resolutions and the US Constitution,” he was quoted as saying by Asia Times in an interview. “Pakistan knows very well that a ‘mujahid’ cannot be a ‘terrorist,’ [and therefore] continues to provide ‘moral’ and ‘diplomatic’ support to the forces fighting for the right of self-determination in Kashmir.”
Pakistan issued a fatwa known as ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan‘ (“Pakistan’s message”) on January 16 this year. It empowers only Pakistan’s federal government, rather than militant groups, to announce jihad. Terming the decree a “blessing,” Salahuddin’s response is to suggest that the government use it to declare jihad in Kashmir.
“Pakistan is pursuing a weak Kashmir policy in the face of deepening political chaos,” Salahuddin says. Mounting international pressure to end support for the “Kashmir resistance struggle” and other Islamist movements against US intervention in the region has diverted the focus of Pakistan’s policymakers, he contends.
Quoting government sources, Asia Times reported that Pakistan has asked “such militants to keep a low profile.” Salahuddin denied, however, that the government had laid any restrictions on his movements or barred the HM from participating in public activity. “I participated in the public meetings held on October 27 last year and again addressed the Kashmir Martyrs Day rally on November 27,” he claimed.
Salahuddin said that “the HM struggle for Kashmir ‘liberation’ has gained momentum after the India-US nexus conspired to crush Kashmiris.”
Salahuddin, acknowledging Hizb commander Burhan Wani’s loss, believes the HM has created enough awareness among the youth to “give a tough time to the Indian forces whenever a Kashmiri dies.” In fact, Wani’s death gave Kashmiri jihad a new lease of life, he said. “We have now trained a score of youth in Kashmir to utilize social media channels to disseminate the message of Kashmiri jihad and to motivate the people to support the armed resistance.”
Salahuddin said that a majority of Pakistanis support HM’s cause. “We have ‘spiritual bonds’ with Jamaat-e-Islami and share its religious and ideological perception, but other than that HM has no link whatsoever with Jamaat-e-Islami,” he said.