July 2000 News

Hizbul nominates separatist leader as negotiator

31 July 2000
Times of India

Srinagar: The Hizbul Mujahideen, which declared ceasefire last week, on Monday night nominated veteran separatist leader Fazil-ul Haq Qureshi as its negotiator to hold talks with the Union government for working out modalities of the ceasefire. The nomination of Qureshi was decided at a meeting of the field command council of the outfit in which all divisional commanders of the outfit in the Kashmir Valley and Doda were present, with Abdul Majid Dhar, chief commander of the outifit in Jammu and Kashmir in the chair, a statement issued by the Hizbul said. The command council also renewed its appeal to other militant outfits to support the ceasefire and follow suit, the statement said adding it also requested Indian security forces to stop operations against other militant outfits. The statement said a final decision on the participation of the Hizbul Mujahideen in proposed talks with New Delhi rests with the group''s Pakistan-based supreme commander Syed Salauddin. Salahuddin on Monday renewed his group''s call for the inclusion of Pakistan in talks to settle the Kashmir issue, urging India to respond immediately to the proposal. ''India must come (forward) for a tripartite and meaningful dialogue with the participation of Pakistan, Kashmiris and India,'' Salahuddin said in an interview with NNI news agency here, accusing New Delhi of using delaying tactics. He said: ''It is now dependent on India. We have not given up the armed struggle. If we want we can continue the struggle for 100 years. If India does not realise the gravity of the situation, we can again take up arms.'' But he stopped short of setting a deadline. ''The time factor is important for us. We will not allow India to use delaying tactics but I am not setting any deadline,'' he said. However, he insisted on an ''immediate response''. Asked how the Hizb will hold talks with India, he said the group would propose the names of the some people in the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and Kashmiris who are living outside Kashmir and Pakistan but are sincere to the Kashmiri cause. ''But the Hizb will closely monitor the talks,'' he said. He said India should facilitate a meeting of Hizb leaders from both sides of the Line of Control at a place in the Kashmir valley to work out the modalities of a dialogue. Salahuddin said the Hizb had failed to consult other separatist groups in Kashmir due to a ''communication gap'' and the ''prevailing situation,'' adding he was sorry for that. But he said the expulsion of the Hizbul Mujahideen from the United Jehad Council, an umbrella group of armed separatist outfits, did not matter. The Hizb accounts for 90 per cent of the separatist forces in Kashmir, he boasted. Asked if he would appeal to other groups to join the cease-fire, he retorted: ''Why should we ask them? We are sorry for their shortsightedness. They are giving a sentimental reaction. After feeling the international reaction they will also agree with our decision. We have left them to watch and decide.'' Salahuddin denied suggestions that the cease-fire decision may have been influenced by Pakistan and the United States. ''It is baseless and a disinformation,'' he said, adding the Hizb central command had made the decision in accordance with its strategy.


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