PM's initiative will not stop Hizb's activities
4 June 2001
The Times of India
NEW DELHI: Hizbul Mujahideen's supreme commander Syed Salahuddin on Monday hailed Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's invitation to Pakistani military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf as a "breakthrough", but said that his group would continue activities as the talks go on. He also expressed disappointment over the calling off of the six-month-long ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir. "It's a breakthrough - breakthrough in the sense that Prime Minister Vajpayee has adopted a realistic approach," Salahuddin told CNN on Monday night when asked for his reaction to the India-Pakistan talks. He said "earlier, he (Vajpayee) had a very rigid stance that unless Pakistan stopped supporting militants inside Kashmir there would be no talks. He (Vajpayee) also said that unless Pakistan had a democratic government, there was no point in talks." "This time around he has ignored these two questions, made a complete u-turn and invited pakistan for talks. In this regard, it's a breakthrough," he said. The Hizb leader said that if both the leaders sat on a table and discussed the issue of Kashmir, "then it's really a big breakthrough." He added that this breakthrough, "rather than coming from the Indian government", has been brought about by Vajpayee's "realistic approach" and said "we appreciate it." "If a person does good work, that work must be appreciated," he said. Salahuddin said that as he praised Vajpayee for his initiative, "we are deeply disappointed" over his calling off of the ceasefire... We are deeply shocked by that." Asked whether he was willing to reign in his activists as the talks between India and Pakistan are held, the Hizb chief said "there is no connection between our fighting and the diplomatic dialogue." "Just like Afghanistan, Vietnam and the IRA in Britain, we can also continue fighting while a dialogue goes on," he added. To a question on involvement of Kashmiris in the talks, Salahuddin said "this is a trilateral matter... If only two parties such as India and Pakistan talk, then the problem will remain unresolved."