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August 1, 2000
Intelligence reports say Hizbul under pressure from Pak
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
The Hizbul Mujahideen, which declared a three-month cease-fire in Kashmir, is under pressure from Pakistan to scuttle proposed talks with New Delhi on Kashmir, Indian intelligence sources said.
The sources said hectic political and Pakistani intelligence agents' efforts are on in Pakistan and in India to ensure that the Hizbul falls in line with Islamabad's agenda.
Hizbul supremo Syed Salahuddin is under virtual house arrest and the Pakistan government is exerting pressure on him by to withdraw the cease-fire, the sources said.
In fact, it is this pressure that forced Salahuddin to name Ghulam Ali, Mushtaq Gillani and Mohammed Ali as nominees for talks with India. The sources said that these expatriate Kashmiris are known to favour the Pakistan line on Kashmir.
Sources said Salahuddin's residential telephones have gone dead from Monday and Inter-Services Intelligence sleuths are believed to have surrounded his residence.
However, there was no independent confirmation of this.
The Pakistani establishment is peeved about the Hizbul offer, and without earning international wrath it is trying to scuttle it, intelligence analyses here suggest.
On the one hand, Pakistan is holding Salahuddin under house arrest, while on the other hand it is exerting pressure on the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference leadership to reject the cease-fire offer.
The sources pointed out that the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi is in touch with the APHC leaders, who will ultimately lend political legitimacy to the talks.
However, there are differences within the APHC over the cease-fire.
Former APHC chairperson Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who had supported the cease-fire, has left India for the Gulf. In his absence, more APHC members are turning hostile to the cease-fire offer, the sources revealed. And this is "due to active Pakistan pressure", the sources said.
Intelligence reports from the Kashmir valley pointed out that terrorist groups, other than the Hizbul, would step up attacks in the valley. Intelligence agencies have intercepted messages showing that the ISI has instructed these groups to step up attacks.
"The army and other forces will not let the guard down. We are aware that the other groups are planning to scuttle the cease-fire," said a senior army official in New Delhi.
As security forces continue to maintain a vigil and the army top brass discusses the modalities of a cease-fire, the Indian Government is concerned whether dialogue will be possible with the present three Hizbul nominees.
"There are very slim chances of talking to the three nominees," a senior intelligence agency official said. However, at the same time, the government is not expected to reject the names. The Union Cabinet is to discuss the cease-fire offer in the capital on Tuesday.
To save the cease-fire from collapse, the Indian side is working overtime to get Abdul Majid Dhar, chief commander of the Hizbul in Jammu and Kashmir, to come forward with a team acceptable to India.
Hizbul commanders in the valley, who met on Monday, had announced Fazil-ul Haq Qureshi as their nominee, to work out modalities for the cease-fire.
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