Taken aback by the United States' step to declare Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as a "global terrorist", Pakistan on Tuesday slammed the action saying "designation of individuals supporting the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified."
"Pakistan shall continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people for the realisation of the right to self-determination and the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions," Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
"The designation of individuals supporting the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified," a statement attributed to a spokesperson said.
The "70-year long indigenous struggle of Kashmiris remains legitimate," the spokesperson claimed.
"The gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people that have been recorded and reported by independent human rights bodies is a reality," he said. The Kashmiris remain undeterred and unbowed, he said.
"Pakistan has demonstrated a longstanding commitment of combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The people and government of Pakistan have rendered immense sacrifices in both blood and treasure to end this scourge, which has been acknowledged by the international community," the spokesperson added.
The US yesterday declared Salahuddin, who hails from Kashmir and is based in Pakistan for the last 28 years, as a "global terrorist", dealing a major blow to Pakistan.
The US State Department, in a notification just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first meeting with President Donald Trump yesterday, announced the decision to designate Salahuddin as a "global terrorist", saying he "has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism."
The US took the step against the militant group's 71- year-old head, 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".
In a warning to Pakistan Modi and Trump also urged Islamabad not to let its territory being used to launch terror strikes on India.
The joint statement issued after the meeting between the leaders said the two sides "called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terror attacks on other countries." It further called on Pakistan to "expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot attacks and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups."
The United Jihad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of about 13 militant groups active in Jammu and Kashmir that are collectively responsible for the death of hundreds of security personnel, dubbed the US decisison a "crude joke".
The group which has Salahuddin as its head, was formed by the Pakistan Army in 1994 and Salahuddin is its head. It includes Lashkar-e- Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad outfits.
Calling a global terrorist a "symbol of the freedom struggle of Kashmir," the UJC said its "struggle" "will continue till its reaches its logical conclusion."
"Salahuddin is a symbol of the freedom struggle of Kashmir. The Trump administration's decision to declare him global terrorist is a crude joke with the charter of United Nations, ground realities and very regrettable," said Syed Sadaqat Hussain, spokesperson of UJC, in a statement.