Addressing the media amid tight security at the Centre Press Club in Muzaffarabad for the first time since the US declared him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” on June 27, Salahuddin rejected the US decision and said he was a freedom fighter and not a terrorist.
“We are not terrorists…Our struggle is for freedom from India and it will continue till liberation of Kashmir,” said the 71-year-old Kashmiri separatist leader who is based in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
“The US cannot provide a single example of when I and other Kashmiri fighters committed any act of terrorism,” he said. “Kashmiri freedom fighters have a code of conduct to not harm minorities, the elderly, children and women, and if sometimes the enemy offers a peace deal, we accept it,” he added.
Salahuddin also claimed that his group has the capability to launch attacks inside India. He offered conditional talks with India if Russia or China guaranteed that peace talks would be result oriented. He also announced to observe a “Week of Resistance” from Monday to commemorate the first death anniversary of Burhan Wani, the Hizbul commander who was killed on July 8 last year in an encounter in Kashmir. Salahuddidn also led a protest rally in Muzaffarabad.
In a notification, the State Department said Salahuddin, who hails from Kashmir and is based in Pakistan for the last 28 years, “has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.” The US took the step against Salahuddin, whose original name is Mohammed Yusuf Shah, as he had “vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict, threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers, and vowed to turn the Kashmir Valley into a graveyard for Indian forces”.