Militants: Indian Cease-Fire Offer in Kashmir Has Hidden Motives

Published November 25th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A militant group Saturday said Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's ceasefire offer in Kashmir during the Islamic month of Ramadan held other motives than peace. 

Under the cover of this announcement, "Vajpayee wants to refresh his mentally and physically exhausted army," chief of Harkatul Mujahideen, Moulana Farooq Kashmiri, said in a statement. 

India will not "get such an opportunity" from the mujahideen (holy fighters), he warned. 

Most armed groups, including the leading Hizbul Mujahideen, have rejected the Indian gesture but Vajpayee has vowed to go ahead although he also faces opposition from hardline Hindus at home. 

The November 19 cease-fire offer has been welcomed by the United States which has urged militant groups to give a positive response. 

The Harkatul Mujahideen leader said the US should instead pressure Inida to withdraw its troops deployed in Kashmir to counter an 11-year Muslim separatist revolt, which has claimed more 34,000 lives since 1989. 

"If the US has any sympathy for the Kashmiris, then she must ask India to pull out its troops from the occupied territory," he said. 

The militant leader accused the US of safeguarding Indian interests by supporting the "deceptive cease-fire offer." 

Guerrilla groups have said they would intensify attacks against the Indian military in Kashmir during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan due to begin on November 29. 

India accuses Pakistan of fuelling the separatist movement. Islamabad denies the charge but openly supports the Kashmiri separatist drive morally, politically and diplomatically. 

The Himalayan state, divided between Pakistan and India and claimed by both, has triggered two of the three wars between the neighbors since their independence from Britain in 1947. 

The two came close to another war over Kashmir in 1999 in the Kargil border conflict, a year after tit-for-tat nuclear weapon tests -- MUZAFFARABAD (AFP)  





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