December 2003 News

Ceasefire generates hope in J&K

1 December 2003
The Hindustan Times
Faisal Ahmed (IANS)

Faisal Ahmed (IANS)Srinagar: The ceasefire between India and Pakistan along the Jammu and Kashmir border has led to hope among the people, who are clinging to the belief it will lead to the peace that has eluded the region for over a decade.Hundreds of families living near the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri, Gurez, Tangdhar, Keran and Karnah sectors observed a peaceful Eid-ul-Fitr this year for the first time after over a decade.The people of Jammu and Kashmir living far away from the restive border have also not missed the feeling of general relief in the aftermath of the truce that began on November 26. But continuing violence and assertions by terrorist groups that they would continue their attacks on security forces are no doubt acting as a dampener.'Developments appear to be talking place at a breathtaking speed. Frankly I did not expect the ceasefire to last even a day and now it is almost a week old,' said Ghulam Hassan, 56, who runs a small business in the northern border town of Kupwara.Recent statements from Kashmiri separatist leaders, who until recently were dismissive of peace prospects, have also reflected this optimism.Said separatist leader Shabir Shah, who heads the Democratic Freedom Party that 'If India and Pakistan can move towards peace and reconciliation, why can't the two factions of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference bury their differences and forge unity to help the initiative?'Ali Shah Geelani, the hardline chairman of the breakaway Hurriyat faction, too welcomed peace overtures like the ceasefire on the borders and India and Pakistan's decision to resume air links.


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