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Congress questions U.S. reference to ‘Indian-administered’ Kashmir

Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, center, joins hands the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, Sirajul Haq, left, Mian Aslam, during an anti-India rally in Islamabad, Pakistan. File

Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, center, joins hands the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, Sirajul Haq, left, Mian Aslam, during an anti-India rally in Islamabad, Pakistan. File   | Photo Credit: AP

But the term “Indian-Administered Kashmir” appears to have been used rarely for a designated terrorist listing, notably only once, when the Jaish-e-Mohammad was added to the list in 2001.

Two days after India welcomed the US State Department’s decision to designate Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) leader Syed Salahuddin as Specially Designated Global Terrorist, the move has run into controversy over the State Department’s description of his activities in “Indian-Administered Kashmir”.

“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,” the State Department listing read. This has been criticised by Congress party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad who called it a “sell-out”.

“How did India allow this?” asked former Home Minister P.Chidambaram in a tweet.

The Ministry of External Affairs, the US Embassy in India and the US State Department did not reply to queries for a response on the use of the term “administered” which indicates that despite close ties between India and the US on terrorism in the past decade, the designation of Kashmir has remained the same in some official annals.

A study of the State Department website dealing with terrorist designations indicates no clear pattern in usage. In 2014, for example, the updated amendment of the Lashkar-e-Taiba said, “In 2011, LeT was responsible for multiple terrorist attacks, mostly in ‘Jammu and Kashmir’, and in 2012, LeT claimed responsibility for an attack against an Indian army convoy in Kashmir that killed one civilian and injured two others.”

But the term “Indian-Administered Kashmir” appears to have been used rarely for a designated terrorist listing, notably only once, when the Jaish e Mohammad was added to the list in 2001. In the same year, the Lashkar-e-Taiba listing simply referred to it as “Jammu and Kashmir”. Designations for Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in 1997 as “Indian Kashmir”, for example which would appear more palatable. The treasury statement on the additional $10 million bounty on Hafiz Saeed has a reference to only “Kashmir”.

U.S State Department statements and reports have also used “Indian-held Kashmir” a few times in the past. What could be more troubling for India is the fact that it uses “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” occasionally to refer to Pakistan controlled part of the State, in some reports - most recently in the ‘Trafficking in Persons’ report in 2016. The State Department also uses “Pakistan-administered” Kashmir.

The State Department has also used Jammu and Kashmir without any qualifiers in the past, in some contexts. For instance, when the State Department expressed concern over clashes between security forces and protestors in the State several times last year, no qualifiers were used. And whenever a specific question on U.S policy on Jammu and Kashmir is put to the State Department, the stock answer is “there is no change in the U.S policy on Jammu and Kashmir.” The State Department does not elaborate what it is.

“They have used different terms at different times, all meant to indicate de facto control. De jure they still consider entire territory of J&K as disputed territory. Hence the qualifiers,” said Husain Haqqani, former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States and Director, South & Central Asia at Hudson Institute in Washington D.C.

However former Indian Ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar disagreed that the issue should be given much prominence. “The designation of Syed Salahuddin as a terrorist is important because till now the US has tended to see the Hizb- leadership more in the context of the India-Pakistan dispute and has been reluctant to designate it as terrorist,” she told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 7:38:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-questions-us-reference-to-indian-administered-kashmir/article19166096.ece

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