BALL NOT IN OUR COURT: DELHI 

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By FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 10.08.00
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New Delhi, Aug. 10 :     Stressing India would play a passive role as the Hizbul Mujahideen wrestled with internal differences, a senior government official explained that "the ball is not in our court". New Delhi would take a "wait and see" approach, he said. The government did not believe a Hizbul split would necessarily be in its interest. "We will not make any attempt to split the Hizbul." In the same breath, however, the official added that if such a split took place, India hoped "the main part of the Hizbul would join the ceasefire". The seeming contradiction indicates New Delhi is taking pains to ensure Hizbul is seen to be making up its own mind, given the government's perceived differences between the statements of the Lahore-based Hizbul leader Syed Salahuddin and its operational commander Abdul Majid Dar. The official argued that neither Salahuddin nor Dar, "for their own reasons", would like Hizbul to split. He added that the ceasefire was not "just about one individual - Dar," that the ceasefire had been the product of a consensus among all Hizbul leaders at a conference in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir early this year. Despite Salahuddin's termination of the ceasefire, New Delhi seemed cautiously optimistic about the future. The process has developed "a momentum of its own," the official argued. The Indian government had no doubt Pakistan was to blame for the ceasefire's collapse. New Delhi believes the Inter-Services Intelligence had initially told the Hizbul to go ahead with the ceasefire proposal because it believed India would never agree to such an act. As developments went in the opposite direction, "Pakistan decided it could not allow Kashmiris to hold their own dialogue with India". Islamabad now believes it has "lost complete control of Majid Dar". The official, iterating the Wednesday statement of home minister L.K. Advani, said New Delhi was "deeply disappointed by the Hurriyat's attitude" to the ceasefire. The implication seemed to be that the All-Party Hurriyat Conference had a key role to play in Salahuddin's decision to withdraw the ceasefire. In a message possibly directed at the Hurriyat, he added that New Delhi had no intention of marginalising any Kashmiri.