NEW DELHI: In an effort to downplay the issue of usage of "Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir" by the US in a statement issued during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ministry of external affairs stated that similar terms have been used in the past too.
Gopal Baglay, External Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson, came out in defence by saying that it merely affirmed the Indian position that Salahuddin had been involved in cross-border terrorism against India. Baglay’s reaction came after the main opposition party Congress raised the issue.
"Similar term has been used in the State Department's country reports on terrorism brought out every year, including in the period 2010-2013, in the context of cross-border terrorism perpetrated on India. India's consistent position that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India is well known," he said.
Baglay also said India has welcomed the designation of Salahuddin as a 'Specially Designated Global Terrorist' by the US Administration and added that this long-awaited step had been under discussion.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Washington on Monday, the US State Department, while designating Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist", had said the militant group had claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in "Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir", which injured 17 people.
"The Joint Statement issued on June 26, 2017 after Prime Minister's talks with US President Trump is the strongest joint expression of the commitment of the two sides to be shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against terrorism and calls on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries,"MEA spokesperson added.
Congress has criticized the US’s statement. Party’s senior leader and former union minister P Chidambaram in a tweet had asked, "US official statement used the phrase 'Indian- administered Jammu and Kashmir'. How did India accept this?"
During last year in September in the human rights council meet at Geneva, New Delhi had objected to the UN Human Rights chief's usage of 'Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir'.
In a statement issued at that time, India had contested that "The whole state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan remains in illegal occupation of a part of our territory. The two cannot and should not be equated," the Indian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said. Unlike Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, India has an elected democratic government in place in J&K and, therefore, the UN’s usage of the term 'Indian-administered Kashmir' is "artificial".