April 2007 News

'Involve the Hizb in talks'

8 April 2007
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: National Conference president Omar Abdullah on Sunday asked New Delhi to seize the opportunity in Jammu and Kashmir as the mindset of the militants was 'changing.' He said the Centre should announce a 'ceasefire' in the State to further the peace process. Mr. Abdullah, who had called for involving the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin in the dialogue process, told The Hindu that the positive response from the outfit to his suggestion was a welcome change. 'I never expected that response from the Hizb and thought they would ignore my statement in which I had said that Mr. Salahuddin should be involved in the process' he said. 'But it shows that there is a change in the mindset among militants as well and they also want to join the process initiated for finding an amicable solution to the Kashmir problem.' 'I think New Delhi should take steps to seize this opportunity and open channels to make him (Salahuddin) part of the process. It should also initiate an internal ceasefire to make the atmosphere conducive', he said. However, Mr. Abdullah said the dialogue can take place only if there are no conditions from either side. He said: 'I have been saying this for four years and I firmly believe that unless the Hizb is involved no durable and amicable solution to the problem can be found. Hizb has the largest number of Kashmiri boys in its ranks.' 'Demilitarisation' was not possible until the militants come for talks. But the Government was 'under pressure' from taking such a step. 'When we can talk with the Hurriyat why not with Hizb, after all they also belong to this place.'


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