Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin, says move to blacklist him was done so by the U.S to appease India.
Blacklisted Kashmiri Leader Vows To Continue Fight Over Kashmir
A prominent Kashmiri rebel leader, recently blacklisted as a terrorist by the United States, vowed on Saturday to continue fighting until India relinquishes control of the disputed Himalayan region.
"We will not end this fight without liberating Kashmir from India," Syed Salahuddin, who heads the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, said amid tight security at a news conference in Muzaffarabad, the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S State Department classified 71-year-old Salahuddin as a "global terrorist" on the eve of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington last month, a decision the militant leader said was only made to appease India.
He said Hizbul Mujahideen only targets Indian forces and that Daesh and al-Qaeda have no presence in Kashmir.
"(U.S President) Donald Trump's decision will be thrown out if anyone challenges it in American courts," he said.
"No other Western nation has endorsed what this crazy Donald Trump has done," AP reported him as having said.
Salahuddin called on the United Nations to implement its resolutions and give Kashmir's people the right to vote on independence or merging with Pakistan. He said Hizbul Mujahideen may consider peace talks with India if Russia or China can guarantee that such talks would produce results.
"Our movement will continue at any cost until the liberation of Kashmir and it will continue, continue and God willingly, continue" Salahuddin said.
AP reported that Salahuddin later led a rally in the city and praised Pakistan for continued support in Kashmir. India accuses Pakistan of backing Kashmir insurgents in the region split between the two nations, a charge Islamabad denies.
"The US government can't prove any evidence against Syed Salahuddin or any freedom fighter, which comes under terrorism. Our struggle will continue on a diplomatic level, political level and with armed support as per this resolution by the General Assembly (of the United Nations) 3rd May 1982, it is justified morally, legally and has a legitimate section at his back, so we can't declare it (movement of freedom) terrorism," Salahuddin said.
The nuclear-armed South Asian rivals claim the territory in its entirety, having fought two of their three wars over it since 1947.
AP reported that Salahuddin is based in Pakistan's part of Kashmir and often addresses public rallies there.
On Monday, Salahuddin had called for a "Week of Resistance," including two days of strikes starting July 8. That's the anniversary of last year's killing of Burhan Wani, a young protest leader whose death enraged people across Kashmir.
Islamabad on Saturday handed over to New Delhi a list of 546 Indian prisoners being held in Pakistan, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. Under an accord, Pakistan and India routinely exchange lists of each other's prisoners on July 1, reported AP.