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'It can never happen that I could be handed over to India'

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October 04, 2006
On September 16, Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf [Images] and India's Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh [Images] agreed to set up a joint anti-terror mechanism under which both countries would identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations.

A day later, India's Foreign Secretary-designate Shiv Shankar Menon (who has since taken charge) said India could ask Pakistan to hand over some most wanted terrorists like Syed Salahuddin and Dawood Ibrahim [Images], and Pakistan was obliged to cooperate.

Sneering at this suggestion, Syed Salahuddin, the 'supreme commander' of the Hizbul Mujahideen, the biggest terrorist group in Kashmir, told Mohammad Shehzad in a brief telephone interview that the mechanism was a total non-starter, and dared anyone to hand him over to India. He also laid down four conditions for a possible ceasefire in Kashmir.

How do you look at the joint anti-terror mechanism?

It has nothing to offer to the people of Pakistan or the Kashmiris. It is a cliche -- a formal document which has been signed for the sake of signing a document. It has nothing except fine use of diplomatic language. Governments sign such documents for political purposes -� sometimes to cajole the Opposition, sometimes to please the gullible masses. The only advantage of this so-called mechanism is, the 'futile' dialogue process between India and Pakistan has been revived!

Why are you calling the dialogue process 'futile'?

Because it does not hinge on the core issue of Kashmir. In the last 50 years, Pakistan and India have had more than 30 rounds of such dialogue. All of them were futile. And this too will be futile. The Congress has signed this mechanism to placate the BJP and other Opposition parties.

India has been bending over backwards to label the Kashmiris as 'terrorists' and the freedom movement in Kashmir as 'terrorism.' The international community including Pakistan does not recognise Kashmiris as terrorists or their freedom movement as terrorism.

India's fever is only one, and that is mustering support from the international community to label our freedom movement as terrorism. India has suffered a humiliating diplomatic defeat on this front.

But Shiv Shankar Menon says India could ask Pakistan to hand over Syed Salahuddin under the mechanism...

That is a figment of his imagination. The mechanism does not apply to us. We are not terrorists. Our struggle is not terrorism. We are freedom fighters. India's most ardent desire is to present us as terrorists before the world. But India has miserably failed. The non-aligned countries in their declaration at Havana recently signed a declaration in which they have acknowledged our movement as a 'freedom movement'. The UN Charter recognises us as 'freedom fighters.'

President Musharraf recently disclosed that after 9/11, the US threatened Pakistan to bomb it if it did not take a complete u-turn on its Taliban policy. What will happen if your extradition is demanded through a similar threat?

We should not suppose things. Why should we suppose! Bush can climb over a tower and scream that Syed Salahuddin is a terrorist. But nobody will listen to him because the international community as well as the Charter of United Nations recognises Kashmiris as freedom fighters.

The world is not stupid. It cannot be influenced by one's vested interests. It can never happen that I could be handed over to India. It is absolutely impossible. It cannot happen -- I told you this last time!

Ramzan has started. Don't you think it is the time for a ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir [Images]?

We are the followers of Prophet Mohammad. He fought all the important holy wars during the month of Ramzan. He conquered Badr and Mecca in the month of Ramzan. So, Ramzan has nothing to do with ceasefire. The ceasefire is an issue that could be decided by the United Jihad Council, and though the Hizbul Mujahideen is the biggest guerilla group, it does not have the power to make a decision alone in this effect.

If an offer is made, it will be discussed at the meeting of the UJC. But we have some pre-requisite conditions for a ceasefire: India should recognise that Kashmir is a disputed issue; it should release all the political and jihadi leaders; it should withdraw forces from the Kashmir valley and send them back to the 1989 position; and it should stop human rights violations in Kashmir.

If India accepts these conditions, would you really go in for a ceasefire and to what extent would it be sustainable?

We should not suppose things. When India accepts these four conditions, then we will see what to do...

More reports from Pakistan

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