December 2000 News

Lashkar, Hizb reject Pak. LoC move

5 December 2000
The Hindu
B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD: Three days after the Pakistan Government announced ''maximum restraint'' on the Line of Control, the initial feeble response from militant organisations based here is getting crystallised with more outfits expressing reservations about the move. The Lashkar-e-Taiba chief, Sayeed Hafeez, in a strongly-worded statement has not only rejected the Pakistan ceasefire but cautioned the military Government against the possibility of ''getting caught in the Indian trap''. Prof. Hafeez said his organisation would continue its mission of targeting the security forces that are engaged in Kashmir operations. The Lashkar-e-Taiba spokesperson openly claimed responsibility for the two attacks on CRPF camps in Kashmir in two days. Revenge, says Lashkar The spokesperson, Mr. Yahya Mujahideen, told The Hindu that the two attacks were carried out under what is known as qasas (murder-for-murder) operations. He alleged that the CRPF personnel had killed several children and innocent civilians in Kashmir recently and the two attacks were meant to take revenge. ''If the Indian forces do not stop their atrocities, we will not only attack the units responsible, but all Indian Army operations in Kashmir,'' he said. In a separate statement, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief, Syed Salahuddin, said a ceasefire for the sake of ceasefire had no meaning unless it led towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute as per the ''wishes of Kashmiris''. It is not clear what was the provocation for Mr. Salahuddin''s statement, as only two days ago the Hizb had enthusiastically welcomed the Pakistani restraint on the LoC. The Hizb chief said for the Indian ceasefire to become meaningful, the India should agree for unconditional talks with Pakistan and Kashmiris, release all Kashmiris detained in jails, and take back the armed forces from Kashmir. The statement warned that no one would be allowed to betray the cause of Kashmiris. In another development the Al-Badar Mujahideen rejected outright the Indian ceasefire saying it was meant only to provide much- needed rest to the tired security forces. Positive, says U.S. PTI reports: In Washington, the U.S. State Department spokesperson, Mr. Richard Boucher, welcomed Pakistan''s announcement of temporary truce. ''There have been positive developments... Pakistan has reiterated its intention to exercise maximum restraint along the Line of Control in Kashmir, and we certainly welcome that.'' Stating that Washington had been calling for restraint and respect for the LoC, he said, ''Pakistan''s affirmation of that principle is an important complement to the suspension of military operations announced by India last week. So that is certainly a welcome development in that region.''


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