New Delhi: Pakistan has once again come to the defence of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, who was designated a global terrorist by the United States in June. Outgoing High Commissioner of Pakistan to India, Abdul Basit, said he is not a terrorist as far as Pakistan or the people of Kashmir are concerned.
“Whatever he is doing, which is also seen in Pakistan and J&K, is a struggle for the right to self-determination,” Basit told ANI, adding that Pakistan does not agree with the designation and criticizes the decision on part of the United States.
Salahuddin, one of the most wanted terrorists in the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) list, is the senior leader of the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen. As a consequence of this designation, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with Salahuddin and all of Salahuddin’s property and interests in property subject to United States jurisdiction are blocked.”
The envoy also reiterated his country’s position on Hurriyat, saying they represent the political aspirations of people of the state. On the ongoing crackdown on terror funding and NIA raids on Hurriyat leaders, Basit told ANI that such allegations have also been made in the past, but nothing has ever come of it.
Talking about Hafiz Saeed, the most wanted terrorist by Indian authorities in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Basit said that Saeed was put under house arrest but was released due to lack of evidence. “We are trying to gather more evidence against him and if we find there is enough evidence available to try him, we will do that,” he said.
He expressed confidence that both India and Pakistan will once again resume dialogue process. He said the way forward is for the National Security Advisors of both countries to be in touch with each other. Basit, however, remained non-committal when it came to India’s request for consular access to Kulbhushan Kadhav, who has been branded a ‘spy’ by Pakistan and was given a death sentence.