Militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin criticised United States on Saturday for designating him as a global terrorist, and lamented that Washington gave Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a red carpet welcome despite denying him entry into U.S. earlier over the Gujarat riots.
He also vowed to continue the struggle for "liberation" of Kashmir from India, days after the US blacklisted him as a "global terrorist". Addressing the media amid tight security at the CentrePress Club in Muzaffarabad for the first time since the US declared him a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" on June27, Salahuddin rejected the US decision and said he was a freedom fighter and not a terrorist.
"We are not terrorists. Our struggle is for freedom fromIndia and it will continue till liberation of Kashmir," saidthe 71-year-old Kashmiri separatist leader who is based in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
"The US cannot provide a single example of when I and other Kashmiri fighters committed any act of terrorism," hesaid. "Kashmiri freedom fighters have a code of conduct to notharm minorities, the elderly, children and women, and if sometimes the enemy offers a peace deal, we accept it."
Salahuddin also claimed that his group has the capabilityto launch attacks inside India. He offered conditional talks with India if Russia orChina guaranteed that peace talks would be result oriented. He also announced to observe a "Week of Resistance" from Monday to commemorate the first death anniversary of BurhanWani, the Hizbul commander who was killed on July 8, 2016 in an encounter in Kashmir. Salahuddidn also led a protest rally in Muzaffarabad.
In a notification, the State Department said Salahuddin,who hails from Kashmir and is based in Pakistan for the last 28 years, "has committed, or poses a significant risk ofcommitting, acts of terrorism." The US took the step against Salahuddin, whose original name is Mohammed Yusuf Shah, as he had "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".
With PTI inputs