Hizbul Chief Warns Pakistan

Srinagar, June 8: In a very significant development, the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen – indigenous militant outfit in Kashmir – has warned Pakistan that if it withdrew support from Kashmir cause, Kashmiri militants would take the war inside the country.

Syed Salahuddin, Supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen and head of the United Jihad Council (UNJ), an umbrella organization of all militant groups based in Pakistan administered Kashmir said he is desperate and agitated with the new approach taken by Pakistan, which gives more priority to trade than Kashmir during talks with India.

“Kashmir has been the key issue between India and Pakistan but now it has become peripheral as all claims by Pakistan of supporting our struggle politically, diplomatically and morally are nothing but lip service,” Salahuddin told the Saudi newspaper, Arab News.

Salahuddin, in his late 60s, hailing from Budgam district of the Indian side of Kashmir, is considered to be the architect of the modern armed struggle against the ‘Indian occupation’ in Kashmir. Kashmir has been a bone of contention between the two archrivals in the subcontinent. Existing as peaceful neighbors is important for both the nuclear-armed countries so as to avoid any unrest in the region.

He said militants are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir and if it withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan.

Salahuddin, hailing from central Kashmir felt that militancy alone is the solution of the Kashmir crisis. “All those who were involved in the peace talks with India eventually admitted that India is not serious and that it gained more and more time to implement its own design for the region,” he said.

The existing dichotomy on the Kashmir issue has placed the Pakistanis in a dilemma on whether to support militancy or the peace process.

The Hizbul chief believes that this is why the Pakistanis are silent and irreverent, while believing that the Pakistani masses must play a vital role in mounting pressure for the cause and for forcing the government to withdraw its new approach, which he says is hurting the Kashmir struggle.

He said the Kashmir movement cannot be wrapped up on the negotiation table. “Who negotiated for the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan? Were there any talks in Iraq and Afghanistan? The US is compelled by the situation to withdraw its forces in the absence of any negotiation and we would follow the same strategy in Kashmir,” he said.

The UJC head said Pakistan’s opening trade and business relations with India would benefit only India and instead would be counterproductive for Pakistan and its economy. “Pakistan is doing all this without keeping its own interest as prime due to foreign and Western pressures without analyzing its disastrous consequences,” he added.

Fayaz Wani
Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.