JKLF sees US hand, gropes for response
24 July 2000
The Times of India
New Delhi: Top leaders of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) went into a huddle in Rawalpindi on Monday evening to decide how to respond to the Hizbul Mujahideen''s move to order a ceasefire for three months and seek talks with New Delhi, even as they saw US hand behind the offer. ''Yeh kaisa bam phat gaya (What a bomb has exploded!)'', was the first reaction of JKLF chief Amanullah Khan when he spoke to The Times of India from his residence in Rawalpindi. Khan said he would ''neither condemn nor welcome'' this move before his senior colleagues have discussed its implications. However, he did admit that it had taken the JKLF ''completely by surprise''. ''Only yesterday at a meeting these communal-minded groups were accusing JKLF that it had no one in the field. Now look what they''ve done,'' he said. Asked whether the Hizbul could have made the ceasefire decision without clearance from the authorities in Islamabad, Khan said, ''This is possible''. But he hastened to add that top bosses of the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan have been holding extended discussions with representatives of the State Department in the US, including Karl Inderfurth. ''Everyone here (in Pakistan) is saying that the US has found a new ally,'' he said. Asked what possible steps the JKLF would now take, Khan said for quite a while his organisation has been arguing that militancy had to be brought down - but not entirely abandoned - in favour of a diplomatic and political solution. He said the JKLF would also be prepared to talk to the Indian government on the ''basis of our ideology and our formula''. What is this formula? The JKLF chief said: ''Reunite divided Kashmir into a democratic, Federal and secular state. Let it have good relations with both India and Pakistan. Let there be a referendum after 15 years to decide whether Jammu and Kashmir wants to continue as an independent state or join India or Pakistan. And let this be decided by an international Kashmir committee comprising the UN Secretary-General, the P-5, Japan, Germany, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, and the Non-Aligned Movement. ''We want to respect India''s commitment to secularism without hurting the national ego of Pakistan,'' Khan said.