July 2000 News

Hizbul announces ''ceasefire''

24 July 2000
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir''s militant organisation Hizbul Mujahideen, which has been sustaining the anti-India militancy since 1990, on Monday announced a ''unilateral ceasefire'' for three months beginning with immediate effect. It also expressed its willingness for an unconditional dialogue with the Government for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The outfit, however, has not laid down its arms. The surprise development was announced at a press conference by Salaar Aala (chief commander), Mr. Abdul Majid Dar, at a hurriedly called press conference on the outskirts of Srinagar. He was flanked by the top brass of the organisation. Terming the decision historic, Mr. Dar said the ceasefire would be extended if there was a positive response from New Delhi. ''The primary objective of the announcement is to break the deadlock and make the atmosphere conducive for talks,'' he said. He claimed that the decision had the full backing of all segments of the HM, including that based across the Line of Control. Mr. Dar urged other militant outfits to follow suit. He cited various reasons that prompted the move. ''There is a craving worldwide that peace and normality should return to the sub- continent which is passing through difficult times. Our decision is also in consonance with the statements by the Hurriyat leaders and the popular feelings,'' he said. He also appreciated the efforts of Pakistan''s Chief Executive, Gen. Parvez Musharraf, in this regard. Mr. Dar said both the militants and the security forces should stop killings. ''If India accepted our proposal and expressed its willingness for a meaningful dialogue it will be extended. If there is a cold-shoulder, New Delhi has no right to call us terrorists and we deserve a right to withdraw our offer,'' he said. He said there was a consensus within the Hizb leadership on the decision and it was taken after persistent deliberations. ''A meeting of the Majlis Shora was held some months back in Muzzafarbad, where the consensus was arrived at and I was deputed to have deliberations with the field command council in the valley.'' The basic stand of the Hizb, he said, was resolution of the dispute on the basis of the U.N. resolutions. ''But after that a new stand based on a trilateral dialogue involving the representatives of the Kashmiris emerged and we supported it.'' Asked whether the Hizb has taken up the issue with other militant organisations, he said, Syed Salahuddin, supreme commander of Hizb, was also heading the Jehad Council and he may have taken up the issue with them''. ''But this is purely our initiative.'' He expressed his hope that Pakistan would strengthen the move. ''It is a fact that without the assistance of Pakistan it was not possible to sustain the movement. But we are sons of this soil and no other person can understand the sufferings we are passing through.'' Replying to a query whether the Hizb approved the move for the division of the State on communal lines, he said, it was neither to its liking, nor acceptable and feasible.


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