January 2004 News

After Pak Thaw, Warming Up For Hurriyat Talks: Date Set For January 3rd Week

9 January 2004
The Indian Express

New Delhi: After the Islamabad statement, New Delhi has turned its focus on Jammu and Kashmir conveying to the All Party Hurriyat Conference that Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani is ready to hold a dialogue with the Maulvi Abbas Ansari group after the BJP national executive on January 13. It is learnt that the tentative date for the Hurriyat dialogue is January 21 although senior Hurriyat leader and former chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat is said to have asked for a later date. Top Hurriyat leaders, including Ansari and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, are expected here next week to firm up the dates for the talks. The Hurriyat faction led by rebel hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani faction of the Hurriyat is out of the dialogue even though the hardline leader has welcomed the Islamabad statement. While the Hurriyat dialogue process warms up, Army and security forces have launched major counter-insurgency operations in Hari Budda village, said to be the holding camp of Lashkar and Jaish, in Poonch sector. Located south of the Haji Pir pass, between Suran and Loran rivers, the area around Hari Budda village has seen security forces and Army in action for the past two days. According to information received this afternoon, the forces had managed to kill four militants and arrest another two, besides seizing AK 47s and a rocket-launcher. These militants are believed to have infiltrated before the November 26 Indo-Pak LoC ceasefire came into effect. However, at the same time, there is discussion on the possibility of non-initiation of combat operations (NICO) against militants with Pakistan President Musharraf talking about using his influence. The Army has indicated it will be in favour of NICO only if the umbrella militant organisation such as the United Jehad Council takes the initiative.


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