|HOME | NEWS | J&K TALKS AND THE CARNAGE | REPORT|
August 25, 2000
Fernandes confident about revival of Kashmir talks
Defence Minister George Fernandes Friday voiced confidence about revival of discussions between the Centre and the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen in the next two months and said the issue of Pakistan's involvement in the talks would be forgotten by then.
"The Hizb's proposal (for a ceasefire) came out of nowhere and then it faded away. I believe that there will be a revival of this proposal," Fernandes told Karan Thapar on BBC's Hardtalk India programme.
To a question whether the Hizb would continue to insist on tripartite talks involving Pakistan, he said he was not too sure "whether this proposal would be put across in all seriousness".
"Yes", he replied when asked whether the issue of involvement of Pakistan in negotiations would be forgotten or watered down in the next two months.
He said the government had "well established" contacts with the Hizb in Kashmir.
On the All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat's proposal to constitute two groups of its executive committee to hold talks with India and Pakistan simultaneously, Fernandes said the Hurriyat did not represent any mainstream political or insurgency-oriented movement in Jammu and Kashmir.
On the split role suggested by the Hurriyat and the possibility of proximity talks, the minister said there was nothing new in it as the Hurriyat has been continuously talking to Pakistan.
Fernandes said Hurriyat leaders were in the capital earlier this week and had met officials of the Pakistan High Commission.
Asked if there was a split between the Pakistan-based and India-based Hizb commanders, Fernandes said there were reasons to believe that "strong differences" existed. Those on the Indian side were "keen" that the talks should resume, he said adding he had credible reasons to believe that.
On whether Hizb's `chief commander' in Jammu and Kashmir, Abdul Majid Dar, who announced a ceasefire in the state on July 24 which was called off by Pakistan-based Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin on August 8, was being protected, he said Dar was "very safe" and it was "our duty to protect anyone who needs protection".
To a question about the contradictory statements coming from Salahuddin and those from Dar on the resumption of the negotiations, he said "I want to believe Majid Dar".
Fernandes said it was Dar who started the idea of going in for talks and finding a solution to the Kashmir issue but that ran into problems following Pakistan's diktat that no negotiations could take place till Islamabad was involved.
Asked whether the ceasefire declaration was the result of the US involvement, he said "not at all, none whatsoever."
He also sought to make it clear that he would not endorse the view that there has been a "split" in the ranks of Pakistan-based and India-based Hizb commanders as "I don't know (under) what pressures Salahuddin is operating".
At the same time, he maintained that while one Hizb wing wanted talks, the other was against it till Pakistan became a party.
On a "split" between Dar and another Hizb commander Khalili Masood, Fernandes said there could be "some differences" which needed to be overcome.
He agreed with Thapar that New Delhi was trying to put the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together in Kashmir and said wisdom and patience were most needed there. "We live in hope and work in hope and experience shows one should not lose hope".
Asked if Indian intelligence agencies had ensured that Dar crossed into India before making the announcement about the ceasefire on July 24, he said the decision was his and that he chose it that way. He, however, refused to go into the details.
Dar, he said, was a Kashmiri who felt that the path chosen by him and his associates would not take them anywhere especially in view of the consequences and fallout it had on the Kashmiri people.
Fernandes said probably the militants had reached a point where they thought they needed a "course correction" as no solution could be found with the gun.
On whether the move by Hizb to hold talks with India had the concurrence of Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, he said one could surmise that.
He, however, said public statements by Gen Musharraf did not not indicate that he wanted reduction in cross-border terrorism and asserted that it was at Islamabad's behest that Hizb called off the ceasefire.
ASTROLOGY | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEDDING | ROMANCE | WEATHER | WOMEN | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE MESSENGER | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK