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August 18, 2000
Govt awaiting concrete offers on JK talks
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The government is awaiting "concrete offers from relevant parties for a renewed ceasefire" in Jammu and Kashmir before accepting the reported olive branch from any militant group, ministry of home affairs sources pointed out on Friday.
Referring to media reports that the Hizbul Mujahideen had once again extended an olive branch to the government for peace talks, a senior official stressed that the Hizb had earlier withdrawn the cease-fire at Pakistan's insistence, after which innocent people were once again killed in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Any militant organisation wishing to peacefully hold dialogue will now have to prove its sincerity. We have seen how the talks were sabotaged [by Pakistan] and now we will have to make sure that there is no ambiguity in the desire for peace," said the official handling J&K affairs in the ministry.
He pointed out that although there were apparent differences between the Hizb and Lashkar-e-Toiba, it had to be seen how far they increased.
Recently, according to media reports, at the remote village of Mehrot in Surankote, Hizb militants supported by local villagers killed an LeT militant and wounded another. The J&K police said the attack was a result of anger over shabby treatment meted out to local militants by their foreign counterparts.
J&K director-general of police Gurbachan Jagat has emphasised that the clash between these militant groups has potential of snowballing into a major confrontation that can be utilised to the government's advantage.
Significantly, Abdul Ahad Waza, general council member of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, has indicated that peace can return to the strife-torn state if the cease-fire between the government and the Hizb resumes, and which will also make redundant foreign militants in the LeT ranks.
According to reports of the ministry's special secretaries handling J&K affairs, Tilak Raj Kakkar and Mukund Behari Kaushal, tension between the Hizb and the LeT is mounting. The Mehrot incident has made the two mutually suspicious of each other and local administration intelligence suggests that the LeT could be waiting for revenge against the Hizb activists.
It is learnt that the J&K director-general of police has also reported this to the Centre which, however, would initiate steps only after the matter crystallises in concrete terms.
Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani on Thursday told the Bharatiya Janata Party that the government was ready for peace talks with the militant groups provided they gave up violence and proved their sincerity. He pointed out that although the government would not hesitate to resume dialogue, certain precautions would have to be taken before it recommenced.
Fazal Haq Qureshi, the Hizb mediator who had participated in the truncated talks following the militant group's cease-fire told reporters in Srinagar that efforts were on in India and Pakistan to resume dialogue. The other militant groups operating in the valley would join the talks later, Haq added.
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