Hizb-ul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin has taken responsibility for the Pathankot attack, calling it “a continuation of their activity, targeting Indian military installations”. He has also criticised Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s “Kashmir policy”. These comments are part of an interview to an Urdu news portal, Wajood, based in Pakistan. The militant commander is also the head of the United Jihad Council, an amalgam of militant outfits operating in Kashmir, a spokesman for which had called a news agency in Srinagar to claim responsibility for the Pathankot attack.
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“Pakistan is a primary party to the Kashmir issue and its advocate,” Salahuddin told the interviewer in response to a question on Sharif’s policy. “While smoothing its relations with India, it (Pakistan) is accountable for considering the emotions and aspirations of the oppressed Kashmiris. You cannot be an advocate of the murdered and a friend of the murderer simultaneously.”
To a question about the Pathankot attack being a conspiracy to stall Indo-Pak talks, Salahuddin said in the interview: “This perception is cent per cent wrong. Armed Mujahideen are engaged with the eight lakh Indian forces for the last 26 years and each day, Mujahideen are targeting Indian military installations. Pathankot is a continuation of that activity. It has nothing to do with the dialogue process.”
About the Pakistan government’s policy on dialogue with India, Salahudin said: “There have been more than 150 rounds of dialogue and Kashmir issue as a core issue hasn’t come up for a discussion even once. This continued and aimless dialogue process is only aimed at deceiving the international community by India while it gains time to strengthen its military hold (over Kashmir). Whether anybody understands it or not, we Kashmiris understand the manner in which it is done very well.” To another question, he said, “India is neither ready to hold talks on the basic issue of Kashmir nor is it ready to accept occupied Kashmir as a party, so this dialogue process is… a waste of time.”
He also dismissed the perception within Pakistan that claiming responsibility for the Pathankot attack harms the interests of Pakistan. “Azad Jammu and Kashmir is my homeland and base camp. Morally and as per the international law, we are right to carry out any activity for the independence of our occupied land. People who are scared of India can abandon advocating our cause,” he said.
He warned that the militant movement is far from over. “…The anti-India sentiment among the population and the passion for jihad among the youth of the state will keep providing strength to it.”
He ruled out a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue. “ The traditional obstinacy… and military arrogance of India… and the double standards of world powers have destroyed the essence of peaceful means. The youth of the state are united in the understanding that there isn’t any solution to the issue but through a result-oriented armed struggle,” he said.