Islamic organisation welcomes ceasefire
4 December 2000
Our Staff Reporter
NEW DELHI: The Aalami Roohani Markaz, an Islamic religious organisation which claims to run 40,000 madarsas all over the world including 9,000 in India - 800 of them in the Kashmir Valley alone - and 3,500 in Pakistan, today welcomed the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, during the month of Ramzan. Addressing a press conference here, leaders of the Markaz said the people of Jammu and Kashmir should support this initiative and appealed to them to follow democratic and peaceful means for restoring peace. Criticising the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the State as ''anti-Islamic'', the leaders urged the people not to be mislead by fanatics who had nothing good to do for Islam. ''The situation created by the terrorists is against the tenets of Islam. If there are any grievances against the Government, they should be sorted out through negotiations in a peaceful and democratic manner,'' they said. They said Mr. Vajpayee''s initiative, well-received by Muslims all over the world, forced the Pakistani military ruler, Gen. Parvez Musharraf, ''to bow before this public opinion and accept the Indian invitation to negotiate this crucial issue.'' ''It seems they have realised that negotiations and not confrontation is the wise and sensible way to sort it out,'' the Markaz leaders said. Among those present were its patron, Maulana Hasan-ul-Hashmi, the vice- president, Maulana Mohammad Ali Johar and the general secretary, Mr. Mohammad Shahid Khan. Asserting that Kashmir was an integral part of India, the leaders asked the Pakistani rulers to first solve their domestic problems like the Shia-Sunni conflict before meddling in India''s internal affairs. They said the Markaz branch in Pakistan welcomed Mr. Vajpayee''s initiative. ''They had organised a public meeting there, but this was suppressed by the Pakistani authorities,'' they alleged. The leaders said the Markaz was willing to meditate between the militants and the Government. In September, the Markaz had organised a ''peace march'' from Delhi to Srinagar.