Thursday, August 24, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Hizb chief hints at bigger step than ceasefire

MUZAFFARABAD (PoK), Aug 23 (AFP) —Syed Salahuddin, Pakistan-based chief of militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, today hinted at something bigger than a ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir but said before that India had to agree to tripartite talks involving Pakistan.

Hizbul was ready to take a step “bigger than the ceasefire” if India met its demands and “Pakistan will back us in that step,” he said refusing to elaborate.

“The ceasefire will be resumed only after India accepts our basic demands, whether in two days, two months or in 10 years,” he said adding that “our basic aim is to resolve the long-standing (Kashmir) issue and not to indulge in bloodshed.”

Referring to Jammu and Kashmir based chief commander of Hizbul Abdul Majid Dar’s reported statement yesterday that the group would once again call for a ceasefire within the next two months in the state, Salahuddin said Dar had been misquoted.


Involve Pak in talks: APHC
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 23 — The chairman of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, appeared reticent about APHC having talks with the Union Government on the Kashmir tangle along with the Hizbul Mujahideen.

Dismissing Hizb chief commander Abdul Majid Dar’s comment yesterday that APHC had no policy of its own as a “contradiction in itself,” Mr Bhat said it was for the APHC executive council to decide whether to associate themselves with the Hizb in talks with the government. However, he was categorical that any dialogue for resolving the Kashmir problem has to be comprehensive in nature by involving Pakistan as well.

Talking to TNS, Mr Bhat was cautious in his reaction to Dar’s statement about another truce in two months, “Let’s see what happens in two months,” he said. Hurriyat had faced criticism over its inconsistency on Hizbul’s earlier ceasefire offer. The party had first welcomed the offer and later criticised it.

Apparently unhappy over Dar’s comments about Hurriyat, Mr Bhat, however, said he did not want to join issue with the Hizb leader by retorting back. In his statement yesterday, the first since the ceasefire broke down, Dar had described the Hurriyat as a party having no policy or programme. He had regretted that the APHC was silent during the fortnight-long ceasefire.

Mr Bhat’s insistence on “comprehensive peace initiative” meant that Hurriyat would in some form like Pakistan to be associated in any talks on the future of Kashmir.

The APHC chairman, who had an “hour-long” meeting with Pakistan High Commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi yesterday, briefed him about the situation in Kashmir. Mr Bhat, whose aim in Delhi is to gauge the reaction of the Indian Government to his offer of Hurriyat’s opening simultaneous but separate channels of communication with India and Pakistan, said he had not received any response from the Indian Government so far. Pakistan, he said, had welcomed his offer.

Referring to his discussions with officials of the American Embassy, who had called on him yesterday, the APHC chief said apart from the threat of a nuclear conflict in the region, he had talked of the globalisation and of the people’s yearning for peace.

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