July 2001 News

India and Pak can talk but fighting will continue: Hizb

2 July 2001
The Indian Express
Raja Asghar

Islamabad: Fighting will continue in Kashmir while arch-rivals India and Pakistan hold their potentially ice-breaking summit this month, the disputed region’s top militant commander said on Monday. Syed Salahuddin ruled out a truce to mark Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf’s July 14-16 trip for talks with Prime Minister Vajpayee that are likely to focus on Kashmir. Salahuddin, who heads the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and the 14-group United Jihad Council alliance, said in an interview with Reuters Television that the guerrillas approved Musharraf’s trip to India but he would not like the Pakistan President to call for a truce during the talks. ‘‘The armed struggle and anti-military actions of mujahideen will continue, they will not stop,’’ Salahuddin said at his office in Rawalpindi near here. ‘‘And side-by-side, talks for the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir issue will also go on,’’ he said citing examples of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. He said Musharraf, in his talks, should stick to Pakistan’s ‘‘national stance’’ that the Kashmir dispute must be settled according to the wishes of the residents and ‘‘should not make any appeal to jihadi groups to dwindle...or stop anti-Indian military operations’’. ‘‘No appeal should come, no suggestion should come because we think this will be the death blow for the ongoing movement.’’ Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of the fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema-I-Islam party, proposed last week that India and the militants observe a temporary ceasefire to improve the atmosphere for the talks. ‘‘Politicians...do not know what is militancy, they do not know what is an armed struggle,’’ Salahuddin said, adding that this struggle had compelled Vajpayee to invite Musharraf for talks after two years of deadlock. ‘‘Once we stop these target-oriented missions against Indian occupation forces, it means that the tempo and momentum of this ongoing struggle will retard... it will go down,’’ he said. Asked the outcome of the summit, Salahuddin said: ‘‘We have not pinned much hopes on this summit, to be a realist, because of... dilly-dallying tactics of the Indian side. But yet we have also not lost all hopes.’’ If Musharraf can make the India accept ‘‘the ground reality and historical fact that Kashmir is a disputed issue which is to be resolved according to the aspirations of the people...it will be a good breakthrough, and...the best point to start with,’’ he said.


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