Ceasefire meaningless, say militant outfits
20 December 2000
B. Muralidhar Reddy
ISLAMABAD: The announcement of the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, extending the Kashmir ceasefire by another month has evoked a lukewarm to hostile response from the Pakistan Government and Pak.-based militant organisations. While the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman preferred to wait to look at the fine print of the Indian announcement, the militant organisations have denounced it as a meaningless exercise unless followed by concrete steps towards resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman, Mr. Riaz Mohammad Khan, said it was too early for Islamabad to react to the announcement and the decision needed careful consideration. ''We have to see this statement because usually the Indian statements have all kinds of conditionalities,'' he said refraining from making any comment on the announcement. A day after the first ceasefire announcement by Mr. Vajpayee on November 19, Pakistan reaction was it was no more than tactical short-term offer to impose a military solution to the Kashmir conflict. But more than a week later Pakistan chose to respond positively by its declaration to observe ''maximum restraint'' on the LoC and invited the Executive of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to Islamabad for discussions. Indications are sooner than later Pakistan would welcome the extension of the ceasefire and reciprocate the gesture. Unlike India, which originally intended to cease operations during the Ramazan period, Pakistan had not put any time frame for ''maximum restraint'' on the border. In contrast to the cautious approach of the Foreign Office the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen deemed the extension as a futile exercise unless India was prepared to follow it up with concrete steps towards resolution of the Kashmir problem. The Hizb spokesman, Mr. Salim Hashmi, reiterated the three point agenda of his organisation to accept and respond to the ceasefire. The points being India must concede Kashmir as a disputed territory; should agree for tripartite talks and leave it to the Kashmiris to decide their future. Mr. Hashmi claimed that even as the ceasefire is in vogue, the security personnel in Kashmir were conducting seize-and-search operations and targeting innocent people. Another militant organisation, Lashkar-e-Toiba, saw little meaning in the extension of the ceasefire and said that it was only meant to give much needed to the ''weary and tired'' personnel of the Indian forces. The Lashkar spokesman, Mr. Yahya Mujaheed, said his organisation would continue its operations in Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Mr. Amanullah Khan, said his organisation is prepared to welcome the extension ''conditionally'' and would expect India to initiate some practical steps leading to resolution of the Kashmir dispute.