Tuesday, January 2, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

APHC to pick team today
Executive to decide on mode of talks

Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, Jan 1 — The All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) executive body is meeting here tomorrow to decide the composition of its team scheduled to visit Pakistan for holding talks with leaders of militant outfits and others on January 15. This will be the third crucial meeting of the executive members of the APHC since the announcement of the unilateral ceasefire by the Centre in Jammu and Kashmir on November 28.

The seven-member executive body of the APHC will decide on the mode of negotiations with the militant leadership in Pakistan. Of the seven, only four top leaders’ travel documents have reportedly been cleared. They include the Chairman, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, former Chairman Moulvi Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik of the JKLF and Mr Abdul Ghani Lone. Mr Lone recently went to Pakistan in connection with the marriage of his son Sajjad to the daughter of JKLF chairman Amanullah Khan.

According to reports, Syed Salahuddin, supreme commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen who is now in Pakistan, has urged India to allow all seven members of the APHC executive committee to travel to Pakistan for talks.

“If some leaders are allowed and some are barred from the travelling to Pakistan, it will create doubts about the Hurriyat. Rather, it can create an impression that the alliance is divided into moderate and extremist people,” Syed Salahuddin was quoted as saying by the Pakistani daily, The Dawn.

Meanwhile, former APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq said it was the “headache” of the 23-member conglomeration to select the members who would visit Pakistan later this month.

The APHC has already urged the government to issue travel documents to the leaders.

The APHC decided to send its team to Pakistan at its meeting held here on December 21. Earlier, it had welcomed the Centre’s unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.

The APHC’s decision to send its team to Pakistan was taken following the ceasefire in the state. Earlier, the Hizbul Mujahideen, led by its chief commander (operations) Abdul Majid Dar, announced a unilateral ceasefire on July 24 for three months. The same had to be withdrawn after the preliminary round of talks between militant leaders and Union Home Ministry officials. The ceasefire, rejected by most militant organisations, mainly Pakistan-based outfits, had to be withdrawn on August 8.

The unilateral ceasefire announced by the Centre, though guardedly responded to in a positive manner by the Hizbul Mujahideen, has been rejected by other Pakistan-based militant organisations, including the Lashkar-e Toiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Al-Badr. These organisations have stepped up attacks on the security forces in the valley since the announcement of the ceasefire. In fact, three major suicide attacks were made, one of these on the Badami Bagh Cantonment on December 25.

UNI adds: Senior APHC executive member Abdul Gani Lone said on Monday that he would not voluntarily visit Pakistan with its team.

Addressing a working committee meeting, Mr Lone said some so called pro-separatist organisations had launched an unfounded campaign against him and added that he would continue to work for the unity of the people of Kashmir.

Referring indirectly to certain militant outfits, he said some persons were talking about hoisting flags atop the Red Fort and the White House. “By the time they succeed or fail in their experiment of hoisting flags, I am afraid there would be total destruction in Kashmir,’’ he added.

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