Hizbul Mujahideen Revokes Ceasefire
8 August 2000
B. Muralidhar Reddy
Islamabad: In conformity with the build-up in the last few days, the Hizbul Mujahideen today announced the withdrawal of the July 24 ceasefire declaration saying India had failed to reciprocate its gesture and demonstrated ''traditional intransigence''. At a crowded news conference here, the Hizbul Mujahideen supreme commander, Syed Salahuddin, however, said his organisation was ready to ''review and reconsider'' its decision if India was prepared to ''break the barrier of rigidity''. He listed two conditions under which the outfit could revise its decision - tripartite talks involving India, Pakistan and Kashmiris or implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution for a plebiscite to determine the will of the people of Kashmir. ''Our options are open and we can review and revise our decision once India breaks the barrier of rigidity. If it does we can persuade other armed resistance movements to join hands with us for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute,'' he said and urged the international community to prevail upon New Delhi to respond positively. Hectic parleys The announcement was preceded by hectic parleys within the organisation. Mr. Ghulam Nabi Sayeed and Mr. Ayub Thakur Quereshi, who run Kashmir movement organisations in the U.K. and the U.S., had arrived on Monday for consultations. Syed Salahuddin said his organisation was in touch with all ''freedom fighters'' inside and outside Kashmir including the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC). At the same time, he said the decision to revoke the ceasefire was the Hizbul''s. Reading from a prepared two-page statement, he listed the circumstances under which the unilateral ceasefire had been announced and the reasons behind the withdrawal. To a volley of hostile questions, he denied that the Hizbul''s decision had divided the militant organisations. ''Not an emotional decision'' Asked whether revoking the ceasefire would be accepted by the outfit''s chief in Kashmir, Mr. Abdul Majid Dar, he said the decision on the ceasefire and its subsequent withdrawal was taken by the Central Command Council. ''We are both bound by the decision of the Central Command Council. It is neither an emotional decision nor taken in a hurry. Mr. Dar is on record that a decision on the ceasefire at the end of the deadline would be taken by the Central Command,'' Syed Salahuddin said. The invitation for the press conference left little doubt about the nature of announcement that was to follow from the Hizbul chief. Curiously the invitation mentioned that the press brief would be at 5 p.m. IST (Pakistan is half-an-hour behind India). A week after announcing the ceasefire, the Hizbul set the deadline of 5 p.m. August 8 for India to respond positively or be prepared for the ''consequences''. It also put two conditions - involvement of Pakistan and Kashmiris in the dialogue and the talks for resolution of Kashmir dispute to be held outside the purview of the Indian Constitution. In his statement the Hizbul chief accused India of having changed its stance and avoiding a categorical response to the demands made by his organisation. ''Mr. Vajpayee''s statements have been contradictory. In one breath he talked about dialogue a on the basis of humaneness and in the same breath he spoke about the negotiations within the framework of Indian Constitution''. He criticised the statement of the BJP general secretary, Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu, that the Constitution was full of insaniyat (humaneness) and alleged that minorities in India were victims of communal carnage. ''They do not spare even low caste Hindus. In J&K licence has been given to the armed forces to shoot and kill at will and invade the privacy of the residents. Is this insaniyat?''. Syed Salahuddin said that while he had no evidence, in his opinion the recent killings in Kashmir were engineered by Indian intelligence agencies to discredit the ''freedom movement'' as they had done in March when the U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton, visited the sub-continent. There has been a remarkable convergence in the views of the Pakistan Foreign Office and the Hizbul particularly after the latter set a deadline for New Delhi to respond to its demands.