Hours before PM Modi met US President Donald Trump, the US state department formally designated Syed Salahuddin, chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, a global terrorist.
In an order, the department said, the designation, of “a specially designated global terrorist ...imposes sanctions on foreign persons who have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security , foreign policy, or economy of the US.As a consequence of this designation, US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with Salahuddin and all of Salahuddin's property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked.“
The designation, which has already been welcomed by India, is a direct hit against Pakistan. While HM itself was designated a terror group in 2004, Salahuddin was kept out. India banned Hizbul as a terror group in 2002. Salahuddin's “Kashmir“ origin and cadres have been used by Pakistan to push terror into Kashmir. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, “Of the terrorist outfits currently operating in J-K, HM is one of the largest, with a cadre base drawn from indigenous and foreign sources. It is one of the most important terrorist outfits in terms of its effectiveness in perpetrating violence across the State at regular intervals.“
The US is now ranged with India regarding the source of instability in Kashmir being sponsored from across the border. Monday's designation is unlikely to have much effect on Pakistan's support to terrorism against India or to Salahuddin himself. Salahuddin lives and operates from Pakistan just like Hafiz Saeed of Lashkar-e-Taiba or Masood Azhar of Jaish-eMohammed or Dawood Ibrahim, all designated global terrorists by the US. But it is a political statement.
The US has used recent statements by Salahuddin to bolster their case. “In September 2016, Salahuddin vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict, threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers, and vowed to turn the Valley “into a graveyard for Indian forces“. The US move comes days after the Trump administration disbanded the special representative's office for Afghanistan and Pakistan, responsible for developing long-range strategy in the region. The move was seen as putting Pakistan policy within the regional context.