Washington, DC (August 17, 2017) — Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) today praised the US State Department for designating Kashmir-based terrorist organization Hizbul Mujahideen a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The FTO designation makes it illegal for US citizens from engaging with the group and blocks any of the organization’s property subject to US jurisdiction.

“Hizbul Mujahideen is directly responsible for the ethnic and religious cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley since its inception in 1989,” stated Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF Senior Director for Policy and author of its annual human rights report. “The FTO designation is a much awaited recognition from the United States that this cleansing occurred, and charts a clear path going forward.”

Hizbul Mujahideen is one of the largest militant groups operating in Kashmir. In June, during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States, Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin, based in Pakistan and receiving patronage by the country’s military and intelligence wings, was declared a Foreign Terrorist by the United States government. Last month, it was deemed responsible, alongside Lashkar-e-Taiba, another Pakistan-based group on America’s FTO list, for the terrorist attack killing Hindu pilgrims participating in the Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage in the Kashmir Valley.

“This is a long overdue step that was finally carried out by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,” Jay Kansara, Director of Government Relations, asserted. “We urge the State Department to continue examining aid given to Pakistan and other countries where Islamist extremism threatens regional security and vulnerable minorities. Censure by the United States can be the difference between Pakistan acting against Islamists or placating them, as it has been doing for decades.”