MUZAFFARABAD: A rally to condemn the United States’ recent decision to blacklist Hizbul Mujahideen as a ‘terrorist organisation’ was held in Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), on Thursday.
The US decision came weeks after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin was designated a global terrorist.
“Hizbul Mujahideen is a not a terrorist organisation but stands for the sentiments and aspirations of Kashmiris and is the centre of their hopes,” read a banner carried by protesters.
The demonstrators chanted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans while condemning the US decision as they walked from Burhan Wani Chowk to Garhipan Chowk.
“You can withhold our properties and [bank] accounts if there are any [in the US], but you cannot force us to give up our legitimate struggle for freedom,” Shaikh Jamilur Rehman, secretary general of United Jihad Council (UJC), said.
“We will carry on our struggle, which is in accordance with the UN Charter, until the eviction of the last Indian soldier from our motherland,” he vowed.
The UJC is an amalgam of over a dozen groups fighting India’s occupation of Kashmir. Salahuddin serves as its chairman.
Rehman rubbished what he called “propaganda against Kashmiri separatist groups” as “an attempt to please the Narendra Modi-led Indian government.”
“Hizbul Mujahideen is an indigenous organisation, engaged in a legitimate struggle for the right to self determination enshrined in UN Security Council resolutions,” he said. “It cannot be dubbed as a terrorist organisation by any stretch of the imagination.”
“The days of America acting as the ‘Big Brother’ are numbered as another superpower, which supports the Kashmir cause, is on the rise,” Rehman said, referring to China.
Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, an organiser of the protest, regretted what he called the US turning a blind eye towards state-sponsored terrorism in held Kashmir.
“The US is also silent on terrorism unleashed by fanatic Hindus and so-called cow vigilantes on Indian Muslims,” he added.
“If anyone has to be designated as a ‘terrorist’ in today’s world, it is Indian premier Narendra Modi and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu; but both are advancing their ghastly agendas under American patronage,” he said.
Ghulamullah Azad, a leader of the proscribed Jamaatud Dawa, termed the US decision “ridiculous” and said it would make no difference to the armed struggle in held Kashmir.
“First, they clamped a similar decision on Hafiz Muhammad Saeed; then, the did the same for Syed Salahuddin. However, the struggle in held Kashmir has not suffered a dent due to the exemplary determination of Kashmiri people … The latest decision will also meet the same fate,” he said.
Earlier, the Foreign Office (FO) had termed the decision to designate Hizbul Mujahideen as “saddening”.
Addressing a weekly media briefing, FO spokesperson Nafees Zakaria had said that Kashmiris’ struggle for their right to self-determination has been rightfully continuing for the past 70 years.
He had also noted that Indian occupation forces had used excessive force against people in held Kashmir and they are “continuing to do so”.__Tribune.com