Kashmir Guerrilla Leader: It Is India's Turn Now to Offer Cease-fire
It is India's turn now to announce a cease-fire in the embattled Kashmir region, the leader of a powerful Kashmiri guerrilla group, Hizbul Mujahideen, said in an interview published Saturday.
Syed Salahuddin said Hizbul would give a positive response if India took the initiative.
"It is now India's turn and we would positively respond by bringing other Kashmiri groups to the table for talks," he told The News daily.
Hizbul had announced a unilateral cease-fire in Kashmir on July 24 but withdrew it after two weeks as India rejected its demand for three-way talks, including Pakistan, on the thorny Kashmir issue.
Pakistan and India control parts of the divided Himalayan State of Kashmir, which is claimed by both. The row has triggered two of the three wars between the neighbors since their independence in 1947.
Following the cancellation of the truce Islamabad and New Delhi have blamed each other for the collapse of a prospective peace process.
Salahuddin said he had recently sent a letter to US President Bill Clinton urging him to persuade India to enter into meaningful tripartite talks on resolving the Kashmir dispute.
"If India shows sincerity, then Hizbul would take positive steps and ask other mujahideen groups to participate in talks. However this time Hizbul would not take the initiative of cease-fire."
Hizbul is the largest of many militant groups waging an armed separatist struggle in the Indian-controlled zone of Kashmir that has claimed more than 34,000 lives since 1989.
India says the unrest is fomented by Pakistan and rejects any talks until the "cross-border terrorism" in Kashmir is stopped. Pakistan denies the charge and says it gives only moral and political support to the "Kashmiris' struggle for self-determination." ISLAMABAD(AFP)
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