July 2000 News

Jammat severs ties with Hizbul

27 July 2000
The Hindu
B. Muralidhar Reddy

Islamabad: The Jammat-I-Islami, the largest religious party in Pakistan, has severed its ties with the Hizbul Mujahideen following the latter''s decision to declare a three- month ceasefire in Kashmir. The parting of ways between the Jammat-I-Islami (JI) and the Hizbul Mujahideen is significant in view of speculation in the Pakistani media in the last few days that the Hizbul offer could be linked to the current visit of the JI chief to the United States and his extensive discussions with the State Department officials on a number of issues including Kashmir. The Hizbul Mujahideen, undoubtedly the most powerful militant organisation working in Kashmir, is considered a JI- backed organisation though its cadre are mostly drawn from Kashmir. The group has been active since the days of militancy in the early 1990s. The Jamaat-I-Islami chief, Quazi Hussain Ahmed, deemed it necessary to cut short his tour of the United States in the wake of the ceasefire announcement as speculation persisted on his party role in the development, despite clarification that the JI had nothing to do with the Hizbul offer. After a meeting of senior leaders of the JI in Lahore today, Quazi Hussain Ahmed told reporters that the Hizbul had made the offer without consulting his party and henceforth JI would have nothing to do with the outfit. The JI would continue to support all other groups within the fold of the United Jehadi Council, the Pakistan-based umbrella organisation of anti-India groups. The council on Wednesday denounced the Hizbul offer as a ''retrograde step'' that would undermine the ''freedom struggle'' in Kashmir and vowed to continue its ''jehad''. It also expelled the Hizbul from its membership and sacked its chief, Syed Salahuddin, as its chairman. In a related development, two leading dailies here have reported that the Hizbul announcement was the result of ''backdoor channel diplomacy'' between New Delhi and Islamabad backed by the U.S. establishment. The Nation, in a front page item, reported that Pakistan had enforced an ''informal and unilateral'' ceasefire on its side of Line of Control since June 27 as part of the effort by the Government to regain international sympathy on the Kashmir issue. Quoting Foreign Office sources, the daily claimed that there was a ''clear connection'' between the month-old ceasefire and the three-month ceasefire announced by the Hizbul. It said the objective was to regain diplomatic recognition following the Kargil episode. ''The Indian Government exploited the Kargil episode to the maximum, internally to rally its people, and externally to reinforce some of the doubts and fears that began to emerge about the Kashmir struggle itself'', the paper quoted an unnamed Foreign Office official. The Hizbul offer and ceasefire on the LoC were taken keeping in mind the reaction of the global community. Another daily, Dawn, in a news analysis of the Hizbul offer, said that it was the culmination of months of ''secret diplomacy'' between Islamabad and New Delhi through influential Americans with the backing of the U.S. diplomatic and defence establishment. ''It is understood that the next step to follow the ceasefire would be a partial Indian reduction of its combat troops deployed in Kashmir. The Pakistan side committed as early as June to persuade the mujahideen for a ceasefire but the Indians wanted to see it implemented before making any move,'' the paper said. It said the Hizbul announcement was the beginning of a series of steps to be taken by India and Pakistan. These would include resumption of trade by conferring the most favoured nation status. ''The next item on the agenda of the secret negotiators is to get Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, together at the U.N. General Assembly session in New York in September''.

 

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