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August 8, 2000
Hizb commander wants talks to continue
The operational commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Abdul Majid Dar has expressed the hope that talks between the representatives of his organisation and New Delhi will proceed further despite Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's assertion in Parliament Monday that they (talks) are being held within the framework of the Constitution, although this is not a precondition.
Talking to the BBC (Urdu) Monday night, Dar said he was at a loss to understand why first it was said that the talks would be held without preconditions and now conditions were being put and things distorted.
But all through the interview, he avoided making any harsh statement. He refused to make any statement on the ultimatum which the organisation's supreme commander Syed Salahuddin made in Islamabad to make the talks tripartite by including Pakistan in them. ''This question will be decided by our command,'' he said when asked if his organisation would act on its ultimatum.
The ultimatum was issued by Salahuddin from Pakistan last week when talks between representatives of the Indian government and the Hizb were being held.
Salahuddin had evaded a direct reply when asked by the BBC why he had to issue the ultimatum when the ceasefire announcement was made by Dar.
Dar told the BBC that he was not sorry at all for announcing the ceasefire. ''We took this decision after months of deliberations,'' he said.
Dar was also satisfied with last week's talks. ''It showed a ray of hope and we want talks to proceed further,'' he said.
But in Pakistan, Salahuddin has written to foreign missions asking them to pressurise India to include Pakistan in the talks. At the same time, Pakistan's foreign office issued a statement saying it must be included in the talks.
Significantly, Dar does not insist on the inclusion of Pakistan in the talks.
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