Jihad Council Truce Fails To Move Delhi
9 October 2007
New Delhi: Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir are unlikely to suspend operations against terror groups despite the dramatic announcement of a three- day unilateral ceasefire by Pakistan-based terror groups, Union Home Ministry officials have said. A spokesperson for the Muzaffarabad- based United Jihad Council, chaired by Hizb ul-Mujahideen chief Mohammad Yusuf Shah, on Monday ordered terror groups to cease operations in Jammu and Kashmir from October 12 to 14, to mark Eid-ul- Fitr. Sources in the Home Ministry said the government was unlikely to declare a reciprocal ceasefire unless the terror groups outside the UJC umbrella also demonstrated a willingness to halt strikes against civilians and Indian forces. 'We're considering the options,' a senior official said, 'but do not wish to repeat past mistakes.' In December 2000 India responded to an eight-day Hizb ceasefire, terminating offensive operations for five months, but it led to a sharp rise in civilian fatalities. Major groups outside the UJC, such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, have not responded to the announcement. However, in a September 14 speech, the Lashkar's supreme head, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, declared that 'Ramzan and jihad have a deep relationship as the Battle of Badr and the Conquest of Mecca both took place during this month.' While Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is yet to discuss the ceasefire with key officials, a wide spectrum of politicians in Jammu and Kashmir has voiced support for the JNC declaration, saying it will help to move the peace process forward. People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said the ceasefire would 'allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to breathe freely.' Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader M.Y. Tarigami asked 'all parties to work towards ending violence permanently.' Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads the secessionist All Parties Hurriyat Conference, called on New Delhi to make an 'appropriate response so that the ground is prepared for a permanent two-way ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.' However, Islamist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, whose breakaway APHC faction has the support of both the Hizb and the Lashkar, declined to endorse the ceasefire. Mr. Geelani said the ceasefire was 'the UJC's decision, and I have nothing to say about it.'