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July 25, 2000
Hizbul chief endorses peace offer: PTI
Syed Salahuddin, top leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen, today put his seal of approval on the unilateral ceasfire offered by his main commander in Jammu and Kashmir and said India must respond positively.
"We own this offer, it is a tactical move," Salahuddin told a press conference in Islamabad. "The ball is in India's court. We will monitor India's attitude. If it's negative, we will again start the armed struggle," he said, a day after the unilateral truce was announced by Hizbul commander Abdul Majid Dar in Srinagar Monday.
He said the ceasefire move came keeping in mind India's "success in inculcutating the image in the west that we only talk through the barrel of the gun and are not interested in talks."
Salahuddin denied the ceasefire offer was the outcome of Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain's visit to the United States. "He has nothing to do with it nor does his visit."
"I want to make it clear the ceasefire offer is conditional," Salahuddin said.
"India should come forward now to negotiate with Pakistan, the All Party Hurriat Conference and the Kashmiri leadership," Salahuddin said.
He said if India agreed to talks, it would be only on self-determination and there would be no other agenda.
He said Dar has not been given any mandate for talks with India. "Only our central committee can take any such decision. No individual has a right to take any decision on the group's behalf," Salahuddin added.
He said the Hizbul wanted India to release militants in jail and cease anti-militancy operations.
"If India did not respond positively and violated our ceasefire conditions, you will see with your own eyes there will be massive, targetted attacks by mujahideen (freedom fighters) in Kashmir."
He said 17 Kashmiri militant factions grouped into Muttahida Jihad Council had "disagreed" with Dar's offer.
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