February 2004 News

Pak for Kashmir ceasefire by terrorists, jihadis in a fix

25 February 2004
The Hindustan Times
Zulfiqar Ali (Reuters)

Muzaffarabad: Pakistan is urging terrorist organisations to declare a ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, but the groups are divided over whether to follow the directive, terrorist leaders and other sources said. 'Yes, they have been asking us for some time to announce a ceasefire in Kashmir to give politics and diplomacy a chance to resolve the dispute,' said a senior terrorist commander, who asked not to be named. He said Pakistani authorities were arguing that the 'jihad' was no longer a viable option as the country presses for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute with India. The Pakistani military is widely believed to have used terrorist groups to recruit and train proxy fighters and wage guerrilla war on Indian forces across the Line of Control. But the level of support for the terrorists has been drastically reduced in recent months, making it harder for them to maintain their operations. 'Nobody is prepared any longer in the outside world to listen to our viewpoint that the armed struggle in Kashmir is not terrorism but a freedom struggle,' the commander quoted a Pakistani official as saying. New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of supporting Islamic terrorists crossing from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir into Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charges, although its crackdown on Islamic terrorist groups following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States has had a direct impact on Kashmiri outfits. 'Give diplomacy a chance' The Kashmiri commander said Pakistani officials feel the 'jihad' has become the focus of international attention, and it was now important to give 'politics and diplomacy' a chance. But he said his group was not ready to announce a ceasefire in Kashmir. He said: 'We do not trust India. Therefore we are not prepared to stop our activities against Indian forces, because once stopped it would be difficult to reorganise it again.' 'If Indian announces that the process of dialogue with Pakistan is exclusively to resolve the Kashmir issue and promises to resolve it in light of UN resolutions, and involves the Kashmiris in the process, then we would declare a ceasefire. Sources close to the terrorists said the United Jihad Council, an umbrella organisation of different Kashmiri groups, was split over the ceasefire, with some supporting the idea. 'We cannot move in the opposite direction to the wind. Sooner or later we may have to declare a ceasefire in Kashmir,' said a commander of a group in the alliance.


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