NEW DELHI Despite reservations from within, government today extended the cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir by a month beyond republic day to give peace every chance and asked Pakistan to curb.and control militant activities of organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad.
“The present ceasefire is being extended (for restoring peace in the state) by another month,” External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh told reporters outside Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 7 Race Course Road residence.
The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by the prime minister discussed the situation in Jammu & Kashmir for three hours before deciding to extend the truce.
“Yes, the CCS felt that despite the continuing violence .unleashed by the militant groups, especially by Jaish-e-Muhammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the government must extend the ceasefire by another month,” Singh said.
But the government is still debating the issue of clearing the proposed travel plans of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference delegation which wants to go to Pakistan for talks with militant commanders based there.
Government believes violence must be ended and peace, which has been welcomed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, given every chance.
The CCS took the decision of cease-fire extension notwithstanding views of sections within the government opposing extension. The entire security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly acts of cross-border ‘terrorism and militant acts against civilians’, was reviewed at the CCS meeting.
The CCS meeting was attended by home minister L.K.Advani, Jaswant Singh, defence minister George Fernandes, finance minister Yashwant Sinha, deputy chairman of planning commission K.C.Pant, national security advisor Brajesh Mishra, army chief Gen. S.Padmanabhan besides other top officials.
Singh said Vajpayee’s peace initiative on Ramazan eve was taken despite heinous acts of terrorism and violence against innocent people.
Asked about the possibility of Indo-Pak talks on the Kashmir issue, he said India has always been in favour of a dialogue and will remain so.
A congenial atmosphere has to be created and the onus for that ties on Pakistan. Dialogue on one hand and gun-talk on the other does not work, he said.
The ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir as well us on the border and the Line of Control (LoC was reviewed in its entirety, Singh said, adding that chief minister Farooq Abdullah was Informed and consulted in the matter.
Singh said the views of major political parties was also taken into consideration while taking the decision.
On Islamabad’s stand that it was unable to control militant organisations, including Lashkar-e-
Taiba, which were carrying out violent activities, highly-placed sources today said we do not buy Pakistan’s argument that they have no control over these groups: They are controlled and directed by Pakistan.
They said the main aim of Vajpayee government’s announcement of extending the cease-fire by a month* beyond January 26 was to meet people’s desire for peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Tell the international community that India sincerely wanted to end violence and also address Pakistan for a positive response.
We have been able to convince the people in the state that we sincerely want to give a chance to peace, they said adding that the international community has appreciated New Delhi’s gesture across the board.
(KASHMIR OBSERVER, 24 January, 2001)
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