Hizbul Mujahideen derides peace process
1 April 2006
The Daily Times
Islamabad: The largest Kashmiri militant group fighting Indian rule on Saturday derided a peace process between India and Pakistan and said separatists talking with the two governments were gaining nothing. “The fact is that the ongoing dialogue process between India and Pakistan is useless, futile and a waste of time,” Hizbul Mujahideen said in a statement. “Those Kashmiri politicians who have joined this process are not going to get anything except breakfast, tours and media coverage, because India is not sincere in resolving this issue,” the group’s spokesman, Saleem Hashmi, said in the statement. On Thursday, a local news agency published an interview with Sayed Salahuddin, leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, saying that the group could consider a truce only if India recognised Kashmir as disputed territory and Kashmiris were given a place at the table in peace negotiations. India considers Kashmir an integral part of the country. In early 2004, two years after almost going to war for a fourth time, Pakistan and India began a formal peace process, though there has been little progress over Kashmir. Although violence has declined markedly, gunfights between security forces and militants remain frequent in Indian held Kashmir, where India has faced a revolt against its rule since 1989. Hizbul Mujahideen, which is based in Pakistani Kashmir, has suffered losses in recent months, and the militants complain Pakistan is no longer supporting their armed struggle. “For the last two or three years, they (the Pakistan government) have withdrawn all sorts of support from us and recently, we received messages that there should be no cross border movement,” a senior Hizbul Mujahideen official said. “Because of this change, India now is taking advantage and targeting Hizbul fighters. The (casualty) figures are not as high as reported, but, yes, they are precisely targeting our men.” The Hizbul Mujahideen statement on Saturday said Kashmiris’ right to self-determination should be paramount in any talks. “The mujahideen will only encourage a dialogue process that focused on self-determination of Kashmiris,” it said. India and Pakistan have held talks with selected moderate separatist leaders from Kashmir, which has been divided between the two countries for more than half a century.