No ceasefire in Kashmir angers Indian political parties
21 September 2007
The Daily Times
New Delhi: With election year in Jammu and Kashmir just around the corner, the Indian governments refusal to accept a ceasefire offer during the holy month of Ramazan has left pro-India parties fuming. All political parties except the ruling Congress have criticised Defence Minister AK Antony for rejecting the idea of a unilateral ceasefire, and described it as unfortunate. No ceasefire hurting Kashmiris: Ruling ally Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) General Secretary Nizamuddin Bhat said the Kashmiri people had been hurt by Antonys decision. The people of Kashmir want peace and the ceasefire could have been a major relief for them, he said. He cautioned that such an unfortunate statement would also hurt the Indo-Pak peace process. Stressing that the Kashmir issue could not be resolved militarily, Bhat asked New Delhi to respond positively to the latest ceasefire offer by militants. The oppositions National Conference (NC) also expressed surprise at the ministers statement. The partys Provisional President Dr Mehboob Beig said the statement had astonished him. New Delhi was claiming the situation in Kashmir had improved on one hand, but refusing to lower its guard on the other, he said. Dichotomy in New Delhi policy: Highlighting the dichotomy in New Delhis strategy, the NC leader said that Indian strategists had no qualms on a ceasefire in the northeastern state of Nagaland, but when it came to Kashmir, they made excuses. It is unfortunate that the Indian government is losing a historic opportunity in Kashmir, and New Delhi will have to repent on its decision in [future], he said. Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF) Chairman Hakim Muhammad Yasin also denounced Antonys statement. Ceasefire along the borders has been successful, and it is about time its fruit reached the common people, he said. Ceasefire depends on security situation: Rejecting these views, the Congress party has said the decision to accept or decline a ceasefire rested on the security situation as assessed by New Delhi from time to time. The defence minister may have given the statement based on inputs from various government agencies, said the partys Senior Provincial Vice President Abdul Ghani Vakil. He, however, asked militant groups to observe a unilateral ceasefire. He said that it would put moral pressure on Indian forces to respond in kind.