Will Pak turn Hizbul chief over to India?
14 January 2002
Srinagar: In the wake of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf''s speech, the question now being asked here by security officials and others is whether Pakistan will turn over the Hizbul Mujahideen chief to India. Syed Salahuddin, an Indian national now living in Pakistan- administered Kashmir, is on the list of 20 terrorists and criminals that New Delhi has submitted to Islamabad for extradition. Musharraf said in his seminal address to the nation Saturday that he would consider repatriation of non-Pakistanis in the list if substantial proof of their wrongdoing is furnished to Islamabad. For security officials here, Salahuddin''s outfit has been responsible for several hundred acts of violence in the State and as such his extradition will be a test of Islamabad''s sincerity in rooting out terrorism. The people, on the other hand, are keen to see if Islamabad will brand Salahuddin as a terrorist and turn him over to Indian authorities or ignore New Delhi''s request and leave him alone in keeping with Musharraf''s pledge to continue providing ''diplomatic, political and moral support'' to the ''Kashmir cause''. ''We will see what Pakistan has to say about this man,'' said a senior police officer. ''For us he is a terrorist.'' ''Since Musharraf has declared zero tolerance for terrorists, let''s see how he behaves with regard to him (Salahuddin),'' the officer said. He said Gen Musharraf has asserted that there would be no room for terrorism in ''Kashmir cause'', it is hoped that Salahuddin would be handed over to India. ''Here lies the test for President Musharraf,'' the officer said. The pro-Pakistan Hizbul has claimed responsibility for many terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, including the car bomb explosion on August 10, 2000 in Srinagar that had killed 15 people and wounded many more. The car bomb explosion had followed the withdrawal of the unilateral ceasefire by Salahuddin. His then deputy, Abdul Majid Dar, had announced the truce on July 24, 2000. Salahuddin, whose real name is Mohammad Yusuf, had contested the 1987 State Assembly elections as a candidate of Muslim United Front (MUF), a conglomerate of Islamic parties in Kashmir. He had lost to Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah of the ruling National Conference in Amria Kadal constituency with a very narrow margin. In 1992, he became the Hizbul chief replacing Master Ahsan Dar and a year later shifted his base of operations to Pakistan- administered Kashmir.