Mufti for ceasefire during Ramzan
5 November 2002
The Asian Age
Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on Tuesday favoured a ''unilateral'' Ramzan ceasefire with militants in the state and holding ''unconditional dialogue'' with them. ''The Centre had announced such a ceasefire in the past as a good gesture and they can do it again,'' Mr Sayeed said in reply to a question on announcement of a ceasefire during Ramzan, which begins this month. When asked whether he will ask the Centre to announce the ceasefire, he said ''I had not given it a thought.'' Mr Sayeed, who was talking to reporters after re-opening of more offices in Jammu as part of the Durbar Move, said ''We will urge the Centre to hold unconditional dialogue with militants.'' To a question about the willingness of the Centre to talk to militants ''unconditionally,'' he said ''We will prevail upon them in this direction as it is in the best interest of the country and can bring permanent peace and normalcy in the state.'' He insisted that unconditional talks with separatists in the state was a must in order to bring about a positive change in the situation. Commenting on the government’s decision to release political prisoners, he said all ''political prisoners'' would be released gradually. The state government, he reiterated, would bring about an Ahtisaab (accountability) bill in the Assembly to make politicians including the chief minister accountable to the public. The Hurriyat Conference on its part said Mr Sayeed’s proposal for a unilateral ceasefire in the holy month of Ramzan would not serve any purpose if it is not coupled with the initiation of dialogue process. ''Unilateral ceasefire will not serve any purpose as has been evident from a similar announcement made by New Delhi last year. It has to be coupled with initiation of a dialogue process to address the core issue of Kashmir,'' senior Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said in Srinagar. ''It (unilateral ceasefire) has to be part of larger package that includes a dialogue process to resolve the basic problem of Kashmir,'' he observed. He, however, expressed doubts about the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan or with the Kashmiri leadership ''sometime in the near future...''