Wednesday, July 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Truce offer a ‘positive sign’
From T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, July 25 — Caught unaware by the stunning announcement of a unilateral 90-day ceasefire by the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen in Srinagar yesterday, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government sees in it a ray of hope in getting the peace talks started.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, took the lead in welcoming the conditional ceasefire put in place by the Hizbul Mujahideen with effect from today. Mr Vajpayee reiterated that his government is “willing to talk to anyone within the framework of the Constitution.”

Mr Vajpayee made these observations at the meeting of the BJP parliamentary party in the forenoon here.

The government views the Hizbul Mujahideen’s ceasefire proposal as a positive sign in the wake of the protracted proxy war unleashed by Pakistan since 1989. The Hizbul Mujahideen, being a dominant Kashmiri outfit, appears to have realised that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are yearning for peace. The nitty gritty connected with working out the modalities for the talks is expected to be worked out in due course.

Security experts attribute Hizbul Mujahideen’s offer of truce to a combination of factors, including Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence’s (ISI) propensity to dump militant organisations overnight. Particularly when the ISI is convinced that a particular militant outfit has become too powerful.

Islamabad then begins a parallel operation of bestowing its largesse on a new outfit which will not slip away from the ISI grip.

These experts stress that Pakistan is concentrating on propping up a new terrorist organisation called the “Jaish-e-Mohammad” or victory of the Prophet. Maulana Azhar, who was released from an Indian prison on December 31 in exchange for the hostages aboard the hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft commandeered to Kandahar while on a Kathmandu-Delhi flight on December 25 last year, is in the vanguard of this outfit.

The Jaish-e-Mohammad, aver these experts, has neutralised most of the other militant outfits aided and abetted by Pakistan. This has spread confusion among the ranks of several militant organisations using Pakistan as a staging ground. In this context, it is pointed out that Islamabad had neutralised the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front in 1995 by dumping it on the wayside. The JKLF too had then taken recourse to announcing a unilateral ceasefire.

The JKLF is now part of the all encompassing All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC). The Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, has stated over the past few months that the government was willing to have talks with anyone for resolving the Kashmir tangle within the ambit of the Constitution.

However, discriminating Pakistan watchers are not comfortable with the Hizbul Mujahideen’s announcement of unilateral ceasefire. They contend that New Delhi must be doubly cautious in sitting across the table with it as it could be another gambit on the part of the Pakistan chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf to gain international sympathy for his country.

This assumes significance as the millennium session of the United Nations is scheduled to be held in September where India is taking up the imperative need for sustained international cooperation to deal with the menace of cross border terrorism.

For Vajpayee too getting the talks under way on the Kashmir issue will bolster India’s position during his summit with the US President, Mr Bill Clinton, in Washington and when he delivers his address at the United Nations during his tour of the United States in September.

Notwithstanding the emerging confusion in the various militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir following the unilateral ceasefire announcement, the security forces will continue their pro-active policy in dealing firmly with militant and secessionist elements.Back


Ceasefire move annoys ultras
From M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, July 25 — All-party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) seems to have been placed a piquant situation following the decision of the Hizbul Mujahideen to declare ceasefire for three months.

Several outfits, including the Lashkar-i-Toiba, Harkatul Mujahideen, Al Jehad and the Jamait-ul-Mujahideen have condemned the decision.

The APHC Chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, refused to comment on the decision. He said the issue “will be discussed by the executive committee of the organisation possibly on Wednesday.”

Indications are that the APHC may not support the ceasefire decision despite knowing that this outfit has only local activists and has more support from people than other militant outfits.

Abdul Majid Dar announced the decision to just one young journalist. For the past two months Dar and his associates had been conferring with the activists in the valley about this plunge.

Dar had been in Pakistan for many years and had returned to Kashmir only two months ago. Dar had been disillusioned with activities and attitude of foreign mercenaries. He also felt concerned over the increase in the rate of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen activists by security forces.

He worked as a bodyguard of Jamait-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in 1987. Later he joined the Hizbul Mujahideen. He was already married when he joined the organisation. He fell in love with a Kashmiri doctor whom he married. He has been a regular visitor to Pakistan. The Pakistani agencies sent him to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Islamic countries for pleading the case of Kashmiris.

Dar has claimed that the ceasefire decision has the support of Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salah-ud-Din. It was because of this support that Dar was accompanied by several district and field commanders when he made the announcement.

At one stage, its activists acted as guides to foreign mercenaries. There are indications that the organisation may split on the ceasefire issue. But reports indicate that majority would follow Dar. Earlier scores of dreaded militants who had either surrendered or helped security forces in eliminating pro-Pak militants, were ignored by government agencies which made their survival difficult. If the government takes the same attitude towards Dar and his associates it would prove counter-productive.

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