Thursday, August 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak sabotaged peace process: Advani
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 9 — In a firm statement of the government’s desire to stick to peace talks, Union Home Minister L.K. Advani today said that “India will not deviate from its chosen path” and blamed Pakistan for “sabotaging” prospects of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement in both Houses of Parliament, the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, made it clear that India would not “deviate from its chosen course of talks with all those in Kashmir who eschew the path of terror and violence and our simultaneous battle against all those who continue to stick to that path. We shall persist with our policy of firmness and flexibility”.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Security Affairs again met today and reviewed the latest situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, blaming Pakistan for the decision taken by the Hizbul Mujahideen withdrawing the ceasefire, Mr Advani said that announcement about it had naturally “come as a deep disappointment to all those who were looking for restoration of peace in the state. The Indian security forces were ready to face the challenge and threat of renewed militancy”.

In fact, it is the militant outfits which should worry because they have the Indian security forces and the never-say-die spirit of the Indian soldiers to face. More importantly, they have the strength of Indian democracy to contend with, the Home Minister asserted.

Flaying the All-Party Hurriyat Conference leadership for the negative role played by them, Mr Advani said “their (Hurriyat) response to the Hizbul initiative was not just cold, they even labelled it as a “hasty move”. Perhaps they forgot that Jammu and Kashmir had been in a bloodied turmoil for the last more than a decade.”

“Under the circumstances how could this peace initiative be called “hasty”? It seems that the Hurriyat leadership was acting under pressure from Pakistan. They certainly did not act in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir and this compromised the well being of the people of the State”, Mr Advani said.

On the issue of dialogue with Islamabad, the Home Minister said “India has all along maintained that the question of a dialogue with Pakistan was a separate issue. Prime Minister Mr Vajpayee has made it clear that India is willing to talk with Pakistan on all matters of bilateral concern when Islamabad demonstrates its resolve to end cross-border terrorism”.

“The nature, location, context and content of the announcement by Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin can leave no doubt in anybody’s mind that it is Pakistan which has sabotaged the prospects of peace in the State”, Mr Advani said adding that “the offer of ceasefire was made by Maajid Dar, a leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen in Srinagar. It was withdrawn by Salahuddin in Islamabad”.

It was clear that the voice that made the announcement may have been Salahuddin’s, but the words came from the ruling establishment in Islamabad which is the arch patron for numerous militant groups engaged in cross-border terrorism in J&K and other parts of India, the Home Minister said.

Referring to the statement made by Mr Salahuddin that his organisation withdrew from the proposed talks because of India’s unwillingness to involve Pakistan in this move as the third party, Mr Advani said it was the precise demand of Pakistan. The demand was voiced on several occasions by Pakistan in the past but most shrilly after the Hizbul Mujahideen announced its ceasefire and its readiness for talks with the Government of India, he pointed out.

Indeed all statements from Islamabad since July 24 made it obvious that the ceasefire did not fit with Pakistan’s design of continuously promoting terrorism in J&K, he said.

Pakistan’s determination to sabotage the talks became known with deadly clarity when extremists trained and armed on its soil created a mayhem of massacres in J&K on August 1 and 2 leaving over 100 innocent persons dead, Mr Advani said.

It is not difficult to know why Pakistan struck terror on such an unprecedented scale and soon thereafter sabotaged our initiative for talks with some representatives of our own people. The rulers of Pakistan are terrorised by the prospect of peace, Mr Advani said adding that they were similarly terrorised by the prospect of friendship with India following Mr Vajpayee’s historic peace initiative in Lahore. Kargil was the result of their fear of peace in 1999. The brutal killing of the Amarnath yatris and other innocent people is the result of their fear of peace in 2000, he said.

India’s sincere desire for restoration of peace and normalcy in Kashmir and a comprehensive and lasting solution to the issue are now clearly established.

Not only the people of Kashmir but also people all over the world now clearly know who is for peace and who is for hostilities; whose is the voice of sanity and humanity and whose is a voice of subterfuge and sabotage, Mr Advani said.

Security concerns in Jammu and Kashmir have also forced postponement of the discussions between the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah and the Planning Commission scheduled for tomorrow for the finalisation of the annual plan.

Earlier, the BJP spokesman, Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, lashed out at Pakistan saying that Islamabad was responsible for withdrawal of ceasefire.

ISLAMABAD (AFP): Pakistan today said the door to peace in Kashmir was still open if India “changes its attitude” and agreed to unconditional tripartite peace talks.

“If India changes its attitude and shows sincerity then surely there will be the possibility of progress toward a peaceful resolution and negotiated settlement”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan told AFP.

He said India only had itself to blame for the collapse of a peace initiative by the militant group the Hizbul Mujahideen.

New Delhi was ignoring the demands of the international community for talks over Kashmir and was desperately crying to hide its failings by blaming Islamabad, he alleged.

The latest bout of finger-pointing between the two countries erupted yesterday after the Hizbul Mujahideen called off its ceasefire, saying India had failed to agree to unconditional tripartite talks involving Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Hizbul Mujahideen, which withdrew its 16-day ceasefire yesterday, has admitted that it had not expected India to agree to tripartite talks involving Pakistan on Kashmir, say a UNI report.

In an interview on the CNBC television channel, Pakistan-based chief of the Hizbul Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin denied any pressure from Pakistan. He also said there were no differences among leaders of the militant organisation including ‘commander’ Abdul Majid Dar.

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