Jamaat sees hope in Hizb offer
31 July 2000
Srinagar: In quite contrast to its Pakistani brand, Jammu and Kashmir Jamaat-e-Islami has welcomed the cease-fire by Hizbul Mujahideen describing it as an initiative towards resolving the Kashmir issue by peaceful means. Jamaat Chief Ghulam Mohammad Butt told The Pioneer that confrontation and jingoism had driven South Asia to a deadly path and it was in the best interests of the people of the region to shun bellicosity and talk peace. He impressed upon, both, India and Pakistan to seize the opportunity provided by Hizbul Mujahideen. He said that Jamaat-e-Islami had always favoured a negotiable settlement of Kashmir issue and would appreciate any such move from any quarter. Widely Known as a moderate politician and humble religious leader, G M Butt was reelected as the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami on Sunday. His re-election is viewed as growing influence of moderates in the Jamaat, once known as a hardline politico-religious party. Jamaat-e-Islami was the main target of the security forces for its proximity to the Hizbul Mujahideen, as the entire top brass of the militant outfit comprised of Jamaat functionaries. However, amid stiff opposition from a section of his party workers and leaders, G M Butt distanced Jamaat from the Hizb in 1997 when he was elected as the Amir of the party. He pleaded for withdrawal of gun from Kashmir scene and starting of dialogue to resolve the crisis in the State. However, Jamaat-e-Isiami of Pakistan, which has a separate identity and discipline, continued to own and support the Hizb. And when the Hizb on July 24 declared cease-fire, Jamaat of Pakistan was more than harsh on it by describing its ''peace offensive'' as ''betrayal'' and ''treason''. This, while for Ghulam Mohammad Butt, it was a recognition of his stand taken some three years back. Meanwhile, Hizbul Mujahidden has nominated veteran pro-freedom leader Fazlul Haque Quraishi to initiate talks with the Government to finalise the modalities of cease-fire. A Hizb spokesman, in a statement faxed to a local news agency, NCS said that modalities of cease-fire with the security forces needed to be worked out to avoid incidents like one in central Kashmir''s Budgam district in which one of the Hizb commanders, Molvi Feroz was killed. He said that the Hizb had authorised Fazlul Haque to talk to the authorities on finalisation of modalities of cease-fire. Quraishi, however, could not be contacted for his reaction. The spokesman also clarified that the leadership that would hold dialogue with the Government of India in response to its offer for talks would be framed after proper and thorough consultation among all the genuine pro-freedom leaders. Regarding Hizb''s role in the talks, the spokesman said, that it would be decided by Syed Salahuddin, the chief of the outfit in consultation with other leaders.