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July 31, 2000
Stop military action: Hizbul negotiator
Mushtaq Ahmed Gilani, named by Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as the chief negotiator for talks with the Indian government, has said there must be an immediate and complete cessation of military and paramilitary actions in the Kashmir valley to create an atmosphere conducive for dialogue.
Gilani, who is executive director of the Kashmir Canadian Council based in Toronto, welcomed Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's offer of talks with the Hizbul Mujahideen.
In a faxed message from Canada, he said a peaceful and negotiated settlement is the only possible solution to the Kashmir conflict, and the Indian government must tell the people of Kashmir and Hizbul Mujahideen that it is serious and sincere in its endeavour to resolve the dispute.
He, however, said the condition that the talks be held within the framework of the Indian Constitution "is regrettable... this has been repeatedly rejected by a vast majority of the Kashmiri people."
"The dispute involves three parties -- India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people. Any attempt to strike a deal between any two, without the association of the third, will fail to yield a credible settlement," Gilani said.
He urged the Indian and Pakistani leadership to facilitate meetings between the Hurriyat and other political parties to exchange views on the issue.
He said it was time for the world community to appreciate the fact that control over a region did not mean sovereignty over chunks of land alone. It is the people who make up a nation and if they are perpetually alienated, territorial supremacy achieved through force alone cannot guarantee long-term peace, Gilani said.
"All the parties involved in the dispute must seize this opportunity to find a lasting solution to the long-standing political conflict. The leaderships of India and Pakistan now have the right opportunity to demonstrate to the people of the subcontinent and to the world that the two hostile neighbours are now mature enough to settle their differences peacefully and live side by side for the stability of the region and greater peace of the world," he said.
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