December 2000 News

India seems serious on talks: Gani

9 December 2000
The Dawn

ISLAMABAD: The Chairman All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Prof Abdul Gani Bhatt, has said there are some indications that show that India is serious about starting a dialogue. ''We have not had any contact at the official level but there is interaction at different levels - Pakistani and Kashmiri intellectuals, journalists and other people are interacting among themselves and the Indians. This indicates that the Indians are serious about starting a dialogue'', Bhatt said. ''But all of us will have to go together, if we do not go together, I am afraid we may not be able to break the ice,'' he added. ''What is needed now is a bigger step, a bigger major step by the Indians and Pakistanis. If no dialogue ensues between India and Pakistan, between Hurriyat Conference and India, Hurriyat Conference and Pakistan, I don''t think we will be reaching any where,'' he remarked. Expressing his dissatisfaction over the statement of the Indian foreign minister he said, the statement was not encouraging in the sense that the words should have been carefully chosen. ''It happened not as a healthy sign because we have decided to make sure that the ceasefire holds and the peace process is taken forward,'' he maintained. He said, there was no other alternative available to either the Indians or the Pakistanis or even the Kashmiris other than pursuing the path of sanity, which is to put the heads together and go ahead towards a collective effort, in order to achieve a breakthrough. ''As far the reaction to the ceasefire call given by the Indian prime minister, Pakistan has given an encouraging response he said and added that a step taken by the Indian PM was reciprocated so well that Pakistan took two steps. One, the forces along the LOC were ordered to exercise maximum restraint and the other, Pakistan invited the APHC leadership to Islamabad for talks while at the same time asking the Indians to hold talks with the APHC, he explained. WOMEN''S WARNING A Kashmiri women''s group on Saturday accused leaders of the Hurriyat Conference of trying to compromise Kashmir''s interests by seeking a deal with India. The Dukhtaran-i-Millat, which advocates occupied Kashmir''s merger with Pakistan, said some senior leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference were ''preparing the ground for a sellout''. ''The Indian government will soon allow the Hurriyat leadership to visit Pakistan so that a solution of the Kashmir problem, short of secession from India, is worked out,'' the women''s group said in a statement. Hurriyat leaders have said the Indian government must allow them to travel to Pakistan to hold talks with the government and with some of the Kashmiri groups based in Pakistan. Hurriyat, which brings together more than 20 political, social and religious groups, has welcomed the Indian decision to observe a ceasefire during Ramazan despite attacks by militants. ''We appeal to Lashkar-i-Taiba and Al-Badr to declare war against such political merchants who want to sell the blood of 75,000 Kashmiri martyrs,'' the Dukhtaran-i-Millat statement said. attack The Lashkar-i-Taiba on Saturday threatened to launch further attacks against Indian forces in the occupied Kashmir and called New Delhi''s peace overtures a ''trap.'' The threat came in a statement issued by Abdurrehman Aldhakil, commander of the group''s fighters operating in the Indian occupied state. ''The Indian Ramazan truce is nothing but a trap meant to damage the Kashmiri freedom movement,'' he said, referring to India''s unilateral ceasefire, which started on November 27. Pakistan has responded with a pledge to exercise ''maximum restraint'' along the Line of Control, but most guerrilla outfits have rejected the Indian ceasefire initiative. Lashkar has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks following the Indian gesture. Aldhakil said the ''low morale'' of Indian forces in Kashmir as a result of ''mounting pressure'' from mujahideen had also forced New Delhi to offer the ceasefire. New Delhi has welcomed Islamabad''s pledge but cold-shouldered its proposal for a tripartite dialogue between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris on resolving the 53-year old dispute. The row over Kashmir, which is claimed by both Pakistan and India, has been a source of two wars and a border conflict. ''Indian forces will face more hard blows from Lashkar mujahideen,'' Aldhakil said, adding that the Kashmiri struggle was now in a decisive phase. Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar on Friday welcomed India''s offer to consider allowing Kashmiri leaders to visit Islamabad but warned a militant ceasefire depended on New Delhi ending its ''repression.'' ''Once confidence is established that India is prepared to enter into a purposeful process for the settlement of the Kashmir question then I think it would be reasonable to expect a positive response from the Kashmiri freedom struggle,'' he said.-Agencies


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