November 2000 News

Ramzan offer exposes chinks in separatists'' armour

29 November 2000
The Times of India
Ajay Kaul

New Delhi: The government''s Ramzan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir has exposed differences between the separatist groups comprising Kashmiris and those consisting of foreign mercenaries, which analysts say is due to conflicting agenda and ideologies. While the Ramazan month ceasefire, which came into effect from Tuesday, has been welcomed by all Kashmiri groups including the Hurriyat Conference and leaders of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), the foreign mercenary groups have rejected the offer outrightly and threatened to step up activities during this period. Hizbul Mujahideen, the only powerful Kashmiri militant group, has also not outrightly rejected the offer and said that for the ceasefire to be meaningful, it should be followed by a tripartite dialogue, involving Pakistan. Analysts say the reason for the conflicting reactions is that the Kashmiri and the pro-Kashmiri groups would see an end to the decade-old bloodshed ''as it concerns their brethren'' while the foreign mercenaries have no such concern or agenda. ''Any Kashmiri or pro-Kashmiri group or individual cannot reject the ceasefire outrightly as they have to be given an impression of working towards creation of an atmosphere which would pave the way for ending violence and bloodshed,'' says Prof Amitabh Mattoo of JNU''s School of International Studies. Referring to ''positive'' reaction by Hurriyat Conference, Mattoo said the conglomerate of 23 Kashmiri separatist groups could not afford to reject the offer as its leaders have to keep the interest of brethren Kashmiris in mind. ''In contrast, the groups dominated by and consisting of mercenaries have different ideologies and agenda,'' he adds. Significantly, the Hurriyat had only four months back rebuked Hizbul Mujahideen when it declared a three- month unilateral ceasefire on July 24, terming the move ''hasty''. ''Clearly Hurriyat leadership is under pressure to adopt a conciliatory posture in its approach to resolving the Kashmir issue,'' said a veteran Kashmiri political leader. Analysts link the Hurriyat stance to US'' insistence that all parties should open dialogue to resolve the issue. Senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Lone''s call to militant outfits to accept the ceasefire offer is also seen in this context. Mattoo points out that Hizbul Mujahideen had yet not openly welcomed the ceasefire offer and said ''it obviously demonstrates that the group is under pressure''. The outfit will accept the ceasefire ''but it needs to be given some time, '' he added. Analysts say Abdul Majid Dar, Hizb''s chief commander in J and K, who had declared the July ceasefire, was yet to react to the Centre''s offer. Dar while announcing the ceasefire on July 24 in Srinagar had said that it was guided by Kashmiris'' aspiration for peace and resolution of the issue through dialogue. In contrast, all the mercenary groups, including Lashker-e Taiba, Harkat-ul Mujahideen and Al Badr, have fiercely rejected the government''s ceasefire offer and threatened to step up their activities during the Ramzan month. However, the offer has been hailed by PoK leader. Its former ''prime minister'' Sardar Abdul Qayyum said, ''We should not take it (ceasefire offer) in the negative perspective ... We should take it positively until India does not come up with any negative thing.'' Asked about Pakistan''s rejection of the ceasefire offer, he said Islamabad ''will soon realise its importance''. ''If a non-Muslim prime minister shows respect to the month of Ramzan by declaring ceasefire, militants and Muslim political activists should respond positively,'' said Qureshi, a founder-member of JKLF who now heads his splinter group J and K Democratic Liberation Party (JKDLP). ''Those elements who have been trying to sabotage peace efforts initiated from any circle, like Hizbul Mujahideen, are again active to sabotage the ceasefire,'' he said, adding Kashmiris should ''appreciate every peace initiative'' from any quarter.(PTI)


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