Ceasefire will not be withdrawn: PM
23 November 2000
New Delhi: The Ramzan ceasefire offer to militants in J&K won’t be withdrawn despite provocations like yesterday’s killing of truck drivers on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway, the Prime Minister told the Rajya Sabha today. A calculated risk had been taken, it would be seen through courageously, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee said. Rejecting the Shiv Sena demand for withdrawal of ceasefire, Mr Vajpayee said such a move would be like falling prey to the machinations of those opposed to progress towards peace in the troubled state. Sena members raised a similar demand in the Lok Sabha and boycotted the proceedings there. The Prime Minister said while he could understand the sentiments of the Shiv Sena, it should desist from endangering a major initiative. He was confident that the ceasefire would generate positive results. Mr Vajpayee was responding to a discussion that followed the Sena raising its demand during zero hour. The Sena was isolated; members from other parties welcomed the move but regretted that adequate precautionary measures had not been taken by security forces. Attacks on soft targets ought to have been anticipated, they said. The offer had been a “calculated step after prior preparation,” Mr Vajpayee said. It was a move aimed at building upon the desire for normality expressed by most people of J&K. There were signs of militancy losing popular support and that was confirmed by the varying responses to the offer from militant groups. Those potentially positive signs could not be ignored; it was important to try and spread the desire for a dialogue, he said. The security forces had not lowered their guard, but foolproof arrangements were very difficult to guarantee, Mr Vajpayee said. The truckers were killed at a lonely spot, the assailants had worn what would appear to have been Army uniforms to mislead the people. USA plea to Pak: The USA has asked Pakistan and Kashmiri militant groups to respond positively to the ceasefire, saying the move is a harbinger of a sustained dialogue that could bring peace, adds PTI from Washington. Hurriyat offer: The Hurrriyat chairman, Mr Abdul Ghani Bhat, said his outfit was willing to hold talks with militant leaders provided the Centre allowed it to do so.