August 2000 News

Hizbul''s Secret Dubai Meet Ended Truce

16 August 2000
The Asian Age
Seema Mustafa

New Delhi: The Hizbul Mujahideen decided to call off its ceasefire in Kashmir shortly after a meeting between its chief Syed Salahuddin, executive director of the Kashmiri American Council Ghulam Nabi Fai, Kashmir expatriate Ayub Thukar and former All Parties Hurriyat chairman Maulvi Omar Farooq in Dubai in early August. This meeting was held shortly after the Hizbul Mujahideen had issued an ultimatum that it would withdraw the three-month ceasefire unless the government of India agreed to unconditional tripartite talks. All those present at the meeting are close to Pakistan, with Dr Fai earlier being a well-known lobbyist for that country in the US. Maulvi Omar Farooq came for the meeting from Tehran, where he is enrolled for higher education and research. Dr Fai, who is close to the US establishment, had helped arrange a meeting between Hurriyat representatives and US President Bill Clinton, as well as with US state department officials. He has been supportive of a tripartite dialogue, involving Pakistan and the Hurriyat as the main Kashmiri group. The Hurriyat is close to the Pakistan establishment as well. Dr Fai is reported to have continued the Dubai discussions with Syed Salahuddin in Pakistan. The APHC leaders, including chairman Abdul Ghani Butt, are now expected to arrive in New Delhi within this week for what all sides hope will be a fresh round of consultations with the government. The Hurriyat had made it clear from the very beginning that it should be the political group of Kashmiris authorised to deal with all other organisations and representatives. The Hizb truce had encouraged Delhi to sideline the APHC, leading to considerable heartburn and differences between the Hizb and the Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar. Hurriyat leaders said on Wednesday that they are still open to a dialogue with the Centre but this should be ''comprehensive'' in nature. They were openly critical of Syed Salahuddin''s attempt to bypass the United Jihad Council and take the ''hasty'' decision without consulting the other groups. They hoped that Delhi would have learnt its lesson and would now carry on negotiations, if any, through the APHC, which is a ''recognised political group with far reaching contacts.'' Interestingly, Dr Fai, in an article forwarded by him to The Asian Age earlier, has written, ''For the Kashmir conflict to end, authentic representatives of the Kashmiri people must be senior partners at the negotiating table. No solution will endure without their consent voiced in a referendum. The negotiating representatives should be selected in an internationally supervised election.'' The Hizbul Mujahideen''s parent organisation, the Jamaat-e-Islami, was also critical of the ceasefire decision. Jamaat office-bearer Ameer-ul Azeem told The Asian Age by email that the Hizb ''has annoyed many Pakistanis'' with even Jamaat chief Qazi Husain Ahmed declaring it as a ''betrayal.'' He said, however, that India should admit the Kashmir dispute and ''anyone may be invited to participate in the dialogue.'' JKLF leader in Pakistan Amanullah Khan went several steps forward in decrying the Hizb decision to this correspondent as ''ill timed, ill manouvered, against the bitter lessons of the past and without proper homework.'' He said the total exclusion of Pakistan from the dialogue was ''not a reasonable atittude'' but, like the others, spoke in favour of the need to resume tripartite talks.


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