Foreign Office says leader of Kashmiri Hizbul Mujahideen group is merely supporting right to self-determination
Pakistan on Tuesday strongly criticized the US decision to impose sanctions on Syed Salahuddin, senior leader of the Kashmiri rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen.
“The designation of individuals supporting the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified,” the foreign office said in a statement.
Kashmir has since 1947 been divided between India and Pakistan but is claimed in full by both. Hizbul Mujahideen is one of several homegrown militant groups that have for decades been fighting troops and police deployed in the Indian sector, calling for independence or a merger with Pakistan.
The Pakistani statement complained of “gross and systematic violations of human rights” in India-administered Kashmir. “Over the past one year the world has witnessed an intensification of the brutal policies of repression being pursued by the Indian occupation forces.”
The sanctions move means the United States now considers Salahuddin, also known as Mohammad Yusuf Shah, a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” the State Department said in a statement. U.S. officials said Salahuddin last September vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict, and threatened to train more suicide bombers and to turn the disputed valley “into a graveyard for Indian forces.”
The new sanctions mean American citizens are generally barred from doing business with Salahuddin, and all his assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked.
The State Department said that under Salahuddin, Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for several attacks. The designation was announced just before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was due at the White House for his first face-to-face meeting with President Donald Trump.