LAHORE - The United Jihad Council (UJC) has vowed to carry out more attacks on India’s strategic and military assets to force New Delhi stop genocide in occupied Kashmir. UJC chairman Syed Salahuddin in an interview with The Nation yesterday confirmed that a special unit of the council carried out Pathankot airbase attack, saying that New Delhi’s efforts to discredit UJC by taking names of other organisations will not serve any purpose.

Six gunmen reportedly had taken the Indian airbase in a guerrilla raid on January 1 and remained well-entrenched in the base for four days, killing an officer and more than six other security personnel before taken out by the Indian forces. Whether or not Pakistan and India go ahead with their planned talks, Kashmiri Mujahideen will continue to strike until New Delhi stops killing innocent Kashmiris who are struggling for their basic human right of self-determination, as promised by the UNSC resolutions, Salahuddin said while speaking from an undisclosed location.

The airbase attack was part of their strategy to highlight at international level the atrocities being committed by the Indian forces in occupied Kashmir, he said. “Special guerrilla units of UJC will raid more strategic military assets of New Delhi whenever they find an opportunity to destroy enemy’s military structure which is being used for Kashmiris genocide,” said Salahuddin who is also the head of Hizbul Mujahidden, a key fighting force of UJC which is an association of almost a dozen Kashmiri groups fighting for liberation from India.

“The National Highway Squad (NHS) which carried out the guerrilla raid on Pathankot airbase is a special task unit of the UJC that is responsible for targeting the Indian security forces targets on National Highway starting from Srinagar passing through Jammu, Pathankot and ending at New Delhi. The members of the unit are indigenous fighters belonging to Jammu who operate independently,” he said.

Asked about Indian media reports alleging that attack was ISI planned and Jaish-e-Muhammad militants carried out it, Salahuddin said the New Delhi security establishment wants to discredit the UJC of a major successful strike. “The Indian security establishment is in the habit of accusing ISI for everything bad happening in India. It had blamed the Pakistani intelligence service even for spreading Cholera virus in one of the Indian states,” he added.

Replying to another question, UJC chief said, “The Pathankot attack has nothing to do with the dialogue process between Pakistan and India as we have been waging this war against occupying forces for the last 38 years. It is part of our freedom struggle against the occupying forces.” He added, “(Even if) Pakistan and India continue the dialogue process, the Kashmiri freedom fighters will go ahead with their struggle against the Modi-led government’s accelerated genocide campaign against the Kashmiris.” Expressing his distrust with Nawaz Sharif government, UJC chief said, “In the light of my experience about Pak-India dialogue, the incumbent political dispensation (in Pakistan) has always preferred the approach to advance trade and cultural ties with India while pursuing talks and putting the core issues in the supplementary list. It is the military leadership that firmly believes that Kashmir issue must be on top priority in talks with India.”

Suggesting that Islamabad should precondition talks with halt to Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir, Mr Salahuddin added that “the sitting government should at least raise the issue of Kashmiris genocide with the Modi government. Kashmiris believe that Pakistan is a party to the dispute and it should not hold talks with the forces committing genocide of Kashmiris”. “The Nawaz government should have asked Modi to withdraw its forces from occupied Kashmir as a Confidence Building Measure (CBM),” added the UJC chief.

Modi’s ‘birthday diplomacy’ was aimed at defusing internal and external pressure on his government with regard to normalisation of ties with Pakistan and serve as cover to the Kashmir genocide, he said. The second objective of his surprise diplomacy was to get access from Islamabad to Central Asian States for trade as Pakistan has the economic corridor, he added.