Guns and talks can go simultaneously: Hizb
12 July 2002
The Times of India
Islamabad: Rejecting the recent proposal of Hurriyat Conference to send a delegation to Pakistan for talks on enforcing a ceasefire, Chairman of United Jehad Council and Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin has said ''gun and talks'' could go simultaneously. Ruling out participation in any ceasefire, Salahuddin said such an exercise was not pre-requisite for holding talks and that the ''past experience of cease-fire bore no fruit and met a serious disaster.'' ''We can consider this option after India meets our demand (of accepting Kashmir as a disputed territory) backed by guarantees from world powers'', he told a Karachi-based magazine Herald. In an apparent ''rebuff'' to Hurriyat''s attempt to come and hold discussions with the militant leadership, he said ''...initiating negotiations in such circumstances (when some Hurriyat leaders are lodged in jail) will raise questions about the Hurriyat''s integrity. Such negotiations will also send wrong signals to those struggling for freedom.'' It may be mentioned that Salahuddin supports fire-brand Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and has also ''negotiated'' on his behalf when differences had cropped up between Geelani and other Hurriyat leaders. He said the Hurriyat should first ask New Delhi to release all of its leadership and then work for modalities of their visit to Pakistan. Besides Geelani, JKLF chairman Yaseen Malik and People''s league leader Sheikh Aziz are in jail. The Jamaat leader and Aziz are favoured by militants as well as by regime in Islamabad for their support to the demand of Kashmir''s accession with Pakistan. About Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf''s commitment to permanently stop cross-border infiltration (though he denied this later), Salahuddin said that they did not recognise Line of Control and had every right to move. ''Let me tell you that no power on earth can deprive us of our right to move'' within Pakistan- occupied-Kashmir or Jammu and Kashmir, he said. ''If Indian military and paramilitary troops can not prevent us from crossing this line, what can Pakistani troops do?'' he asked. Salahuddin termed it as impossible for Pakistan to take a U-turn (as in the case of Afghanistan) saying ''Kashmir is Pakistan''s first line of defence.'' He also rejected the notion that the momentum of the militancy seemed to be subsiding saying that it continues with full force.