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August 18, 2000
Qureshi confident Hizb will return to negotiating table
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Fazal Haq Qureshi, the separatist Kashmiri politician who had mediated between the Government of India and the pro-Pakistan militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen before the talks between the two broke down, is confident that the talks will resume soon.
"I received a telephone call from the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, only a couple of days back. He told me he would soon renew his offer to hold talks with the Government of India provided the government agreed to make Pakistan a party to the talks. He told me he would make a comprehensive offer of ceasefire this time and hoped that the Indian authorities would respond in good measure," Qureshi told rediff.com on phone from his residence in the suburbs of Srinagar.
When told that the Hizb chief had, in a statement from Pakistan, denied having authorised anyone to speak on their behalf, Qureshi said this was news to him. "If what you are telling me is true, I have nothing to say in the matter," he remarked.
Qureshi denied any rift between the Hizb militants in Jammu & Kashmir and those across the border. "I have not heard from Abdul Majid Dar, deputy commander of the Hizb, ever since the ceasefire was withdrawn by the militant outfit on August 8," he said.
Top officials in the Union home ministry refused to make any comment on the recent developments in the valley. "The government position is very clear. India can talk to Pakistan only after it stops transborder terrorism and stops aiding and abetting the militant outfits. The government has made it clear that its doors are open to those who want to give up violence and hold talks. But if someone thinks India will bow to pressure from the militant outfits, he is mistaken," said a senior official.
Home ministry sources confirmed that the government was in touch with some militant outfits as well as the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference. But they refused to say whether the government would be receptive to the new Hurriyat offer of holding talks simultaneously with the governments of India and Pakistan.
"We plan that while four members of the Hurriyat executive hold talks with the Government of India, another group of three members hold talks with the Pakistani government," APHC chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat had told rediff.com recently. This offer was revived by the Conference on Thursday.
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