Under fire for not objecting to the US’ reference to Jammu and Kashmir as ‘Indian-administered’, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday soft-pedalled the issue by saying that similar terms had been used by the US in the past as well.
In a surprising move, the US State Department on Monday had designated Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) leader Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. However while doing this, the listing from the Department read, “Under Salahuddin’s tenure as senior HM leader, HM has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people.” This caused a major uproar in the opposition who questioned PM Modi’s silence calling it a “total sell-out of national interest?” and “compromise with India’s national security and sovereignty.”
Responding to questions from the media, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said the term “Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir” only reiterated India’s claim that Syed Salahuddin was responsible for cross-border terrorism against the country. He also said similar terms were used in the past as well, including the time when Congress was in the power. “Similar term has been used in the State Department’s country reports on terrorism brought out every year, including in the period 2010-2013, in the context of cross-border terrorism perpetrated on India. India’s consistent position that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India is well known,” he said.
Baglay also said the designation of Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist was long awaited and shows that India and the US are together in their fight against terrorism. “The Joint Statement issued on June 26, 2017, after Prime Minister’s talks with US President Trump is the strongest joint expression of the commitment of the two sides to be shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against terrorism and calls on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)