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Clerics espouse jehad to settle Kashmir row

Clerics espouse jehad to settle Kashmir row

The Navhind Times
April 28, 2000
Title: Clerics espouse jehad to settle Kashmir row
Publications: The Navhind Times, Panaji, Goa
Date: April 28, 2000

Muridke (Pakistan), April 27, 2000 (AP) : Hundreds of Islamic clerics warned Pakistan's military rulers today against peace talks with India saying jehad or holy war was the only way to settle the Kashmir dispute.

They also warned the Army, which seized power from Pakistan's   civilian government last October, to resist demands from the US to shut down some of the more militant Islamic groups headquartered here.

The leaders of these groups, like Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, were among an estimated 1,200 clerics attending a one-day meeting held to support jehad.

The meeting, organized by Lashkar-e-Toiba, one of the militant groups active in Jammu and Kashmir, was attended by the clerics from a village in Muridke, 25 km west of the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore.

"War is clear.  Instead of diplomacy and holding talks we should resist and tell the nation that jehad is the only solution to retrieve Kashmir," said Maulana Sibgatullah Shirwani, the speaker who opened the conference.

Lashkar-e-Toiba said groups active in Jammu and Kashmir should be helped by the government, not attacked.

"We are trying to make our leaders realize that they should not succumb to American pressure to put pressure on freedom fighters by trying to ban their organization" said Yahya Mujahed, a leader of Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Meanwhile Pakistan today said that New Delhi and Islamabad should work toward reducing tensions along the line of control (LoC) and warned that if it was not done it could lead to a full-fledged war between the two countries.

We have had experiences in the past that disproportionate reactions started a cycle of escalation ending in war neither side wanted.  Therefore, the wise thing to do is to arrest the escalation of tensions along the LoC, the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Mr. Abdul Sattar, said in an interview to American television network CNN.

He said that the situation is now much more dangerous than it ever was.

"I think we should recognize that the nuclearization, the word nuclearisation of South Asia has greatly aggravated the dangers that existed before.

Reiterating Pakistan's offer to resume dialogue with India, tension, he said "there could be contacts between the commanders of both sides so that they talk to each other rather than respond to bullets by bullets.

Admitting that there is traffic across the LoC, he, however, said the people who cross LoC are motivated by various considerations.

The question to ask is, is such traffic sponsored by the government. Government of Pakistan has to work on the basis of the laws of the country. Political activity, collection of funds is not against the law.  What is against the law is violation of the line of control, he said.

Meanwhile India today ruled out any third party mediation in Kashmir whether as facilitator, mediator or in the form of intervention.

The country's stand on the issue was made clear by the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh, who accused Pakistan of interrupting the peace process and said it was for Islamabad to recreate the condition for resumption of dialogue with India.

Deputing for an indisposed Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the External Affairs Minister was replying in the Rajya Sabha to the motion of thanks on the President's address in his capacity as leader of the House.

"I want to make it clear there can be no third party intervention in Kashmir by any means either as facilitator, mediator or in the form of  intervention," Mr. Singh said.

He declared that Kashmir was not the core issue between India and Pakistan, instead Kashmir is at the core of Indian nationhood.

"We are committed that beauty and vividity of Kashmir is not allowed to suffer," he said, telling Pakistan that essential ingredients for resumption of dialogue were that Islamabad abjure violence, stop cross-border terrorism and return to bilateralism.

Mr. Singh said the government was reassessing the situation after Kargil, Kandahar and military coup in Pakistan.

"We have no ill-will or enmity towards the people of Pakistan.  We were the initiators of the dialogue which was interrupted by Pakistan and the onus is now on Islamabad to restore the right condition for talks," he added.

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