August 2000 News

Hizbul Begins To Crack Over Pakistan Role In Talks

18 August 2000
The Asian Age

New Delhi: The first visible cracks in militant unity have appeared with Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Sala-huddin deciding to disown chief negotiator Fazal Qureshi for suggesting the possibility of renewed dialogue. Hizb spokesperson Saleem Hashmi told The Asian Age from Islamabad that there will be no dialogue until and unless India agrees to involve Pakistan in the peace process. Quoting Syed Salahuddin, he said: ''There are three parties to the Kashmir dispute, India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. If India recognises this then the talks can proceed.'' Fazal Qureshi had suggested in interviews to news agencies that the Hizb is agreed that Pakistan could be involved in the dialogue at a later stage. Reacting strongly to this, Syed Salahuddin issued a statement saying nobody but Hashmi in Muzaffarabad and commander Masood in Srinagar was authorised to speak for the Hizb. Hashmi said Fazal Qureshi of the People''s Political Front was not with the Hizb in any capacity from August 8 and had no right to speak for this militant organisation. ''There is no validity in what he has said and he has been told not to give any statements on behalf of the Hizbul Mujahideen,'' he said. Hashmi, however, said Abdul Majid Dar was very much part of the Hizbul Mujahideen and was fully authorised to speak for the organisation from Srinagar. He said there were no differences at all with Abdul Majid Dar, who was brought to Srinagar via Dubai from Pakistan in what is being perceived here as a Research and Analysis Wing operation. Dar has gone underground since the ceasefire and has not issued a single statement, leaving the political statements to the Hizb''s headquarters in Islamabad. His silence is being construed in certain sections here as an indication of differences with his mentors in Islamabad. The differences between Fazal Qureshi and the Hizb come after open discord between the militant organisation and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. APHC leaders were openly critical of the unilateral ceasefire call, claiming that more organisations should have been consulted by the Hizb before a final decision was reached. The Hizb reacted by criticising the Hurriyat for creating confusion. The Hurriyat too is not clear about its stand on this issue. Different voices are being heard from the leadership with seniors like Ali Shah Geelani determined to involve Islamabad in any dialogue from the initial stage itself. Others are willing to begin the process with Delhi with the assurance that Pakistan will be involved later. Delhi, needless to say, finds this to be a more realistic view. Both Mr Geelani and APHC chairman Abdul Ghani Bhatt are expected here over this weekend for informal discussions with the government and others. Relations between the terrorist groups have become strained as a result of the ceasefire. The United Jihad Council has still not accepted the Hizbul Mujahideen back into its fold. The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba cadres have come into direct conflict with Hizb men in Jammu and Kashmir, with reports from Srinagar suggesting a direct clash between the two. The Lashkar is upset about the unilateral decision taken by the Hizb without consulting the other groups. Meanwhile, the Indian government has worked out a final position after the initial confusion following the Hizb ceasefire offer. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union home minister L.K. Advani are one in insisting that the doors are wide open for any and all militant groups who are willing to join the peace process. At the same time the government is not prepared, as yet, to involve Pakistan in the dialogue until and unless it puts an end to cross-border violence.


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