Wednesday, August 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Hizb ends ceasefire

ISLAMABAD, Aug 8 (PTI) — Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen militant group withdrew its unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir this evening, accusing New Delhi of not responding positively to its call for tripartite talks involving Pakistan to settle the Kashmir issue and directed its field commanders to resume their operation in the state.

“We withdraw the unilateral ceasefire... We direct all the commanders and the Mujahideen in the field to break the ceasefire and go ahead along with target-oriented mission,” Hizbul’s supreme commander Syed Salahuddin said at a press conference here after the expiry of the outfit’s 5.30 pm (ist) deadline to India to agree to three-way dialogue.

“India has failed to respond categorically to our offer of peace and has dilly-dallied in giving peace a chance,” the Pakistan-based Hizbul leader said.

“India intended to tie the affair in a bilateral dialogue, which is not acceptable,” he said, adding “Kashmir tangle can be solved only by a just negotiating process involving all three parties - Kashmiris, India and Pakistan,” he said.

There was no immediate response from the Hizbul commanders in the Kashmir valley who had initiated talks with a Central team to chalk-out modalities of the three-month unilateral ceasefire announced by Abdul Majid Dar, who claimed to be the chief commander of the outfit, on July 24 in Srinagar.

Hizbul supreme commander Syed Salahudin told a press conference here that “this peace offensive has not been reciprocated by India, who have demonstrated their traditional intransigence.”

Accusing New Delhi of squandering an opportunity for peace in the state, he said “the Indian leadership has failed to respond to our ice-breaking move which could have become productive and meaningful if India had accepted unconditional tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris.”

Salahudin alleged that Mr Vajpayee’s statements have been contradictory. “In one breath he talked about dialogue on the basis of humanness and in the same breath he spoke about the negotiations within the framework of Indian Constitution,” he said.

The Hizbul chief, however, said the outfit’s “options are open and we can review and revise our decision once India breaks the barrier of rigidity. If it does, we can persuade other armed resistance movements to join hands with us for peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute.”

He warned that another war in the region was possible unless the Kashmir issue was resolved. “The next war over Kashmir could be nuclear,” he said.


Govt regrets decision
From T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 8 — India singled out Pakistan for sabotaging the peace process in Jammu and Kashmir and gave a clarion call to all those “who have taken to arms to return to the path of peace.”

The Vajpayee government deeply regretted the announcement by Hizbul Mujahideen’s chief commander Syed Salahuddin from Pakistan withdrawing the July 24 offer of peace and ceasefire against the Indian security forces.

Reaffirming its commitment to take the process forward, the National Democratic Alliance government after an emergency Cabinet meeting here tonight noted that Pakistan had mounted intense pressure on the Hizbul Mujahideen to sabotage the ceasefire.

The brief but carefully worded government statement issued late at night noted that the question of dialogue with “Pakistan is a separate matter. India is willing to talk to Pakistan on all matters of bilateral concern when Islamabad puts an end to cross-border terrorism.”

The government ruled out involving Pakistan in tripartite negotiations on the protracted Kashmir tangle as demanded by Salahuddin from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The government said that Pakistan was encouraging other militant outfits to intensify their acts of violence in Jammu and Kashmir which led to the massacre of more than 104 persons on August 1 and 2.Pakistan’s object of derailing the peace process proved that the neighbour was trying to get involved as a party in the dispute between India and the Hizbul Mujahideen. “The sabotage (by Pakistan) clearly shows its callous disregard for the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

The government said that the offer of ceasefire made in Srinagar by Majid Dar received overwhelming support with the NDA government responding positively. It pointed out that Union Home Secretary Kamal Pande and other senior officials had been directed to begin negotiations with the Hizbul Mujahideen to work out the modalities for implementing the ceasefire.

Pande and his team flew to Srinagar on August 3 and held a meeting with the representatives of the Hizbul Mujahideen. Other meetings were planned for subsequent days.

Highly placed sources in the government hoped the Hizbul Mujahideen with Majid Dar in the vanguard in the valley would realise the futility of speaking through the gun and not succumb to Islamabad’s nefarious designs of bringing to nought the much delayed peace process.

The revoking of the ceasefire by Salahuddin sitting across the border in Pakistan was not entirely unexpected. Various agencies in Islamabad had realised that the matter was slipping out of their hands and had to make attempts at putting a spanner in the works.

Soon after the Hizbul Mujahideen announced the withdrawal of the ceasefire, the high-powered Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) reviewed the situation in its entirety. The carefully worded statement leaves the door open for negotiations.

The feeling in the government is that Hizbul Mujahideen activists are waking up to the futility of the ‘jehad’ with their comfortably ensconced masters firing orders. The growing feeling among the Hizbul Mujahideen ranks is that they are being exploited by being made the sacrificial lamb especially as cross-border terrorism has been continuing for a decade with no solution in sight.

The differences in the Hizbul Mujahideen ranks in Jammu and Kashmir and PoK became evident with their commanders in the valley going underground following the revoking of the unilateral ceasefire announced 15 days back. They too need time to regroup and work out their strategy.

The security forces overseeing the pro-active operations against the militants or so called ‘jehadis’ in Jammu and Kashmir maintained that they will not open fire at the Hizbul Mujahideen. However, if the security forces are fired upon, they will not be mute spectators but meet the challenge resolutely.

Reacting to the withdrawal of ceasefire offer, Abdullah said that “I still hope a better sense will prevail upon the Hizbul Mujahideen leadership and they will appreciate the Indian stand which was flexible in every sense.”

The Chief Minister said the Hizbul Mujahideen should understand the feelings of Kashmiris who have been longing for peace. Blaming vested interests inclined towards Pakistan for sabotaging the peace process, Abdullah said the massacres were completely orchestrated from across the border to derail the peace process.

Agencies add: Pakistan said on Tuesday that it held India responsible for the cancellation of a ceasefire by a pro-Pakistan frontline militant group in Kashmir.

“A Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement in Islamabad that India’s insistence that talks with the militants were within the bounds of the Indian Constitution, its exclusion of Pakistan from the dialogue had “exposed India’s insincerity.”

Meanwhile, the USA expressed regret at the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen’s decision to end its unilateral ceasefire against Indian security forces in Kashmir.

“We regret the decision reported by the Hizbul Mujahideen and we urge all sides to nurture and continue the process of peace,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, in Washington.Back


CCS reviews situation

NEW DELHI, Aug 8 (UNI) — The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) today met twice informally to take stock of situation arising out of the withdrawal of 16-day-old ceasefire by the Hizbul Mujahideen.

The CCS, which met for the second time just before the ceasefire ended at 5.30 p.m., also took note of the Hizbul’s announcement and drew up a strategy to deal with the new situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 20-minute meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The CCS had also met earlier in the morning to discuss the situation in the valley and the non-receipt of any response from Hizbul Mujahideen in the past 24 hours. The CCS was also briefed on the related developments in the past two days, especially discussions with the Hizb group.

According to highly placed sources, the government is still in touch with the Kashmiri mediators.

A high-level meeting was held in the Home Ministry after the Hizbul’s announcement from Islamabad to discuss the developing situation.

Meanwhile, an Army spokesman said here today that the Army would retaliate if the Hizbul Mujahideen militants opened fire.

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