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Responses to India’s Offer of Cease-fire

The Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee announced, on November 19, 2000, that security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir were being ordered to cease offensive operations during the holy month of Ramadan, beginning November 26. Popularly known as the Ramadan cease-fire, it was extended thrice until it was withdrawn on May 23. The withdrawal announcement was accompanied by an invitation to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, to visit India for talks. The Ramadan cease-fire and other subsequent developments elicited strong and diverse reactions which are presented below.

Statement by the Union Government on the Extension of Cease-fire, January 23, 2001


Terrorist Organisations


Hizb-ul-Mujahideen set three conditions, including Pakistan's inclusion in tripartite talks, for reciprocating to the offer by the Indian government.

"Hizb would also like to see Indian troops being pulled back by New Delhi and release of all freedom fighters made captives by the Indian government"

-- Syed Salahuddin, Supreme Commander, November 24, 2000

"…The cease-fire can have meaning only if it is part of a comprehensive political solution... Such a solution has to be based on India accepting two conditions: that Kashmir is disputed territory and that there should be tripartite negotiations towards a final solution…"

-- Syed Salahuddin, Supreme Commander, November 20, 2000

"… The short term cease-fire call has come from India this time, but, if it is an announcement for the sake of scoring political points and does not carry sincere meanings, we would not give it any consideration…"

-- Saleem Hashmi, Spokesman, November 20, 2000

"… We will eliminate any individual who tries to sell-out the sacrifices of 90,000 Kashmiris… Whether it is Salahuddin, Dar or even G M Bhat

-- Mohammad Masood Sarfaraz, Supreme Commander, Pir Panjal Regiment
(a unit of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen)


"What do these Baniyas know of the meaning of Ramzan? According to the Koran, this is the best month for jihad and for martyrdom, as Allah accepts all sacrifices with pleasure. This ceasefire is part of a conspiracy to undo the jihad."

-- Broadcast to cadre from Lashkar-e-Taiba station Hafteen on 153.120 MHz, 22:00hrs, November 29, 2000, cited in Frontline, Madras, December 22, 2000.

"...The Indian prime minister's offer of ceasefire during the month of Ramazan was fraud and was meant to provide rest to his fatigued army. …all 'jihadi' organizations would not be deceived by such offers and they were determined to continue their struggle till liberation. …if Mr Vajpayee was sincere in his offer he should withdraw his troops from Jammu and Kashmir and stop atrocities on innocent people of the valley..."

-- Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Amir and chief of the outfit's
parent front, the Markaaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad,
November 26, 2000

"… This is typical Indian politics based on fraud. If it (India) is serious about a cease-fire it should withdraw its troops from Kashmir and cease all military operations there…"

-- Spokesperson, November 20, 2000


"…The announcement by India is one more attempt to misguide the world opinion... We reject the cease-fire and announce that our jihad will continue until Indian forces withdraw from occupied Kashmir. We will enhance our actions and launch an operation named Gazwa-e-Badar in Ramazan to cope with this new conspiracy…"

-- Spokesperson, November 20, 2000


"… The only solution is jihad, and whosoever agrees to dialogue with India will not be spared… These parties have lost public support and are restricted to papers, therefore [they] have no locus standi to talk with India on behalf of people of Kashmir…"

-- Spokesperson, November 20, 2000

Harkat-ul Mujahideen

"…This limited cease-fire in respect of Ramazan has no meaning or utility for the people until it is set up to initiate a meaningful dialogue for the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir conflict… As long as this remains unresolved there will remain general unrest and a danger of a nuclear conflict outbreak in the region..."

-- Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Chief, Harkat-ul Mujahideen,
November 20, 2000

"… Deceiving… Since Indian rulers and army do not respect humanity how could they claim to respect the holy month…"

-- Amiruddin Mughal , Spokesperson, Harkat-ul Mujahideen, November 20,2000


"… If Mr. Vajapyee has really any regard for the holy month of fasting, then he should pull out his forces from Kashmir before its advent… Those who talk of settling this issue through negotiations are pushing the Kashmiris towards an indefinite slavery… Insha Allah we will launch massive attacks on the Indian army during Ramazan, particularly on its 17th day when the battle of Badr was fought…"

-- Muttahida Jihad Council, November 20, 2000


Consequences of Cease-fire in Kashmir, Synopsis of the discussion in the Rajya Sabha, India's Upper House of Paliament, November 23, 2000

"Pakistan, as a follow-up of the policy of exercising maximum restraint along the Line of Actual Contact and Line of Control (LOC), has unilaterally taken another bold initiative to withdraw part of its forces deployed along the LOC. The move-back has already commenced and the troops have started moving towards cantonments. However, necessary safeguards have been taken against any possible Indian misadventure across the Line of Control to ensure protection of the local population. This action manifests Pakistan's earnest and genuine desire to de-escalate the situation in order to facilitate the process of meaningful dialogue on the issue. It is hoped that India would also reciprocate in a similar manner and de-induct part of its 700,000 strong force deployed in Indian-occupied Kashmir."

Spokesperson, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate,

Pakistan, December 20, 2000

"… We are still waiting for a more positive response [to the tripartite dialogue offer] from the higher quarters… because this is a very serious issue to which I have responded… Today, the information is that they have rejected the call [for tripartite dialogue]. I expect the Indian Prime Minister to decide on this offer, otherwise, obviously, I will presume that the ball is entirely in their court… any progress on the issue of a peaceful dialogue on Kashmir, if it fails again… I will consider that it was frustrated by the Indian side..."

-- Parvez Musharraf, Chief Executive, Pakistan, December 7, 2000

"Pakistan's own offer to exercise maximum restraint in order to stabilise the ceasefire on the Line of Control is not limited in terms of duration… 'We would like to cooperate in ensuring the stability of that ceasefire permanently. But of course for that objective to be achieved it is necessary that the efforts should succeed in bringing an end to violence in…Kashmir and in promoting a settlement of the Kashmir question in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people…''

-- Abdus Sattar, Foreign Minister, Pakistan, December 5, 2000

…We cannot overlook the fact that India had tried to exploit an offer of cease-fire by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen… short term cease-fire offers… could only be tactical and part of India’s effort to impose a military solution…Pakistan will continue to closely watch the developments in... Kashmir and the intent and purpose of Indian announcement... The views of the Kashmiri-led leadership, especially the APHC will be of importance as they are the main target... "

-- Riaz Ahmed Khan, Spokesperson, Pakistan Foreign Office,
November 20, 2000

"…Pakistan ['s] Foreign Secretary… issued a statement conveying that their armed forces 'deployed along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir will observe maximum restraint'… Attempts… to… push terrorists will be robustly met… It is our hope that… Pakistan would now be persuaded to cease promotion of cross border terrorism so as to create an environment suitable for resumption of the composite dialogue. Government has always conveyed its readiness to have talks with all parties and groups in Jammu & Kashmir, including also the militants… The modalities of these talks, will be decided by… India. It is abundantly clear that there is, in this, no room for what are termed as 'tripartite talk'. The Government is committed to the peace process…Upon conclusion of the month of Ramazan the Government will review the situation and then announce its further course of action.

-- Press Release, Ministry of External Affairs, India, December 5, 2000

"Before the Winter Session of the Parliament concludes, and the House rises for the festivals of Christmas and Id, I wish to take this opportunity and share with Hon'ble Members the Governments assessment of the situation in J&K, also along the LOC.

Following my announcement of 19 November, that during the holy month of Ramzan our security forces would not initiate operations against the militants, also expressing a hope that along the LOC, too, infiltration would cease, there have been some encouraging developments.Certain other aspects, however, remain as our continuing concerns.

The Government is greatly heartened by the response of the citizens, political parties and other organisations in the State of J&K. Our peace initiative has been widely welcomed there. A distinctly different and a more optimistic mood now prevails in that State. The constituency for peace has expanded significantly.

There has also been a decline in incidents of terrorist violence in that state. Activities, however, of organisations like Lashkar-e-Tayaaba and Harkat-ul-Mujahedin continue, resulting in most unfortunate and regrettable loss of innocent civilian lives, also of.the personnel of our security forces. The Government remains firm in its resolve to combating these and other challenges, also to defeating their inhuman and nefarious designs.

There has been a recognisable decline, too, in attempts at cross-LOC and cross-IB infiltration of terrorists. This must cease entirely. The Government is committed to achieving this end.

Along the LOC, we have witnessed a marked improvement in incidents of exchange of fire. Relative peace has prevailed all along the LOC, ever since my announcement of 19 November, barring some incidents in the early stages.

After careful consideration of all aspects the Government has, therefore, taken a decision to extend the period of 'no initiation of combat operations' by another month. After Republic Day 2001, the Government will review the position again.

As the initiator of the dialogue process with Pakistan, India remains committed to it. The existence of a suitable environment for such a process is self evidently necessary. As part of our continued commitment to the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, the Government will initiate such exploratory steps as are considered necessary , by it, so that the 'Composite Dialogue Process between the Governments of India and Pakistan could be resumed.

Let me inform the House that the government's unwavering commitment to meeting the challenge of terrorism remains undiluted. Whereas we will continue to exercise maximum restraint in face of grave provocations, national interests will never be compromised.

I wish to assure Hon'ble Members that we remain steadfast in our commitment to restoring lasting peace and to enabling all our citizens from J&K to join as equal partners in India's march to prosperity."

Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minster, India,Statement in Parliament, December 20, 2000

"…The danger [to the cease-fire]… is not so much from those opposed to it in Kashmir but from those demanding its withdrawal… The Shiv Sena's emotions can be understood but they shouldn't take their protest beyond a limit... There is no going back on the cease-fire. We will make it a success... This step has been taken after due thought. We have taken a risk..."

-- Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minster, India, Impromptu discussion,
Zero Hour, Rajya Sabha, November 23, 2000

"[India's cease-fire offer is] a well considered move...We felt that a move of this kind and that too specifically related to the pious month of Ramzan will convey the right message... The Vajpayee government has been keen to present a united face in this latest initiative. We discussed this on the Cabinet Committee on security..."

-- L. K. Advani, Home Minister, India, November 20, 2000

"… There are reasons to believe Pakistan took the initiative to ensure the negative response of various Pakistan-based militant groups… Their attitude signifies more than just a rejection of a cease-fire…The cease-fire will not be taken away, despite the negative reaction of militant groups in Pakistan. It will start on 26-27 November morning…"

-- George Fernandes, Defence Minister, India; Convenor, National Democratic Alliance, in an interview to Reuters

"…There have been positive developments... Pakistan has reiterated its intention to exercise maximum restraint along the Line of Control in Kashmir, and we certainly welcome that…Pakistan's affirmation of that principle [restraint and respect for the LoC] is an important complement to the suspension of military operations announced by India last week. So that is certainly a welcome development in that region...

-- Richard Boucher, Spokesman, United States Department of State,
December 4, 2000

"… It is important that this chance is seized for creating an atmosphere favorable for renouncing violence, reducing tension and creating a climate of trust between the two largest countries in South Asia… The Indian-Pakistani negotiating process is of key importance for moving towards non-confrontation relations in South Asia… [The Kashmir issue] must be resolved through peaceful, political means on the basis of dialogue between India and Pakistan…"

-- Foreign Ministry of Russia, November 22, 2000

"France welcomes the announcement by Indian Prime Minister, Vajpayee of the order to the security forces not to mount operations in Kashmir during Ramazan... France calls for the resumption of dialogue between both parties opposing each other on the question of Kashmir, dialogue which needs to begin in a calmer climate and which is the only way to resolve their dispute".

-- Spokesperson, Foreign Ministry of France, Quoted in a transcript issued
by the Embassy of France, Islamabad, November 29, 2000

" [The intent to exercise maximum restraint along the Line of Control in Kashmir announced by Pakistan is] a welcome move to reduce tension... Nepal hopes it will pave the way for building trust in the region and better regional understanding..."

-- Spokesman, Foreign Ministry of Nepal, December 3, 2000

"… Positive and bold… There are larger objectives behind it… This time we are not going to be jumpy about things and not commit the mistakes that we have committed in the past…"

-- Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir, November 20

"… A temporary cease-fire can not help resolve the main issue. Instead, there must be meaningful talks between the three parties involved in the conflict... The world community is morally bound to help Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination…"

-- Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, Prime Minister, Pakistan Controlled Kashmir, November 21, 2000

"The response [to the cease-fire] has been satisfactory in general terms and we could move to other things from here… [Although] some groups do not seem to like to live in peace… [the Army is applying] strict restraint. This might change… nothing in this world is static… If somebody is shooting at me, I can't be throwing flowers. We will deal with them [terrorists] appropriately… Whenever the government asks for my advice [on the extension of the cease-fire], I will give it…"

General S. Padmanabhan, Chief of the Army Staff, India, December 19, 2000

[Firing from across the border has become negligible] "Recently we had two major contacts and both of them were repulsed with heavy casualties... If somebody wants to commit suicide, he will do so cease-fire or no cease-fire".

General S. Padmanabhan, Chief of the Army Staff, India, December 12, 2000

"…The Army is never vulnerable because of a decision we ourselves have taken. We are also a party to the [cease-fire] decision. We are quite happy with the decision and can look after ourselves and after everybody around us. It has not increased our vulnerability. [Cease-fire does not mean] that if we are attacked we will stand there with our hands tied…"

-- General S. Padmanabhan, Chief of the Army Staff, India, November 29, 2000

Political Leaders and Parties

"… If the step is based on sincerity and above political gimmick and aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue, restoration of peace and prosperity ...then it is a positive change in the approach of Indian leaders… Hurriyat Conference is ready to participate in any meaningful, result-oriented political process that would lead to the lasting solution of the Kashmir issue…"

-- All Party Hurriayt Conference, November 21, 2000

"…By itself the ceasefire is not enough… It should be the start of negotiations. However, the move is to be welcomed…"

-- Abndul Ghani Lone, Member, Executive Committee, All Party Hurriyat Conference, November 20, 2000

"…Temporary cease-fire is no solution to the Kashmir issue... New Delhi should take the initiative to resolve the Kashmir problem in accordance with the UN resolutions and the promises made by Indian leaders to the people of Kashmir…"

-- Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Member, Executive Committee and Former Chairman, All Party Hurriyat Conference, November 20, 2000

"… Indian rulers are using the holy month of Ramazan as a shield for misguiding Mujahideen... [who should] see through this deception of the Indian rulers… Such beguiling tactics by the Indian government will not lead to establishment of durable peace… The people of Kashmir have continued a just and legal resistance movement against the Indian occupation forces in Kashmir… Kashmiris will continue their struggle unless the Indian troops are called back from their land…"

-- Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Chief, Jamaat-e-Islami (Pakistan), November 20, 2000

"… On the one hand over seven lakh Indian troops are locked in indiscriminate killing of Kashmiris while on the other New Delhi has mentally accepted its defeat before the spirited Kashmiris and unprecedented display of valor against all odds… Indian rulers should make a fresh assessment of the situation …and should realize and accept that Kashmir is a disputed territory…"

-- Abdur Rashid Turabi, Chief, Jamaat-e-Islami, (Pakistan Controlled Kashmir), November 20, 2000

"… There is no doubt that India has earned tremendous goodwill by offering a cease-fire… When Hizbul Mujahideen declared the cease-fire, I dared to support in defiance of the cynicism all around. I think Indian cease-fire is a wonderful opportunity for peace and it has opened many possibilities on Kashmir…"

-- Sardar Qayoom Khan, Former Prime Minister, Pakistan Controlled Kashmir, Interview to Indian Express, November 26, 2000

"… If a non-muslim Prime Minister shows respect to the month of Ramazan by declaring cease-fire, militants and Muslim political activists should respond positively… Those elements who have been trying to sabotage peace efforts initiated from any circle, like Hizbul Mujahideen, are again active to sabotage the cease-fire…"

-- Hashim Qureshi, founder member of JKLF; presently President, Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party, November 21, 2000

"The people of Jammu & Kashmir are eager and anxious for the cessation of hostilities and peace being restored. The case-fire declared by the Union government for the period of Ramzan will be welcomed given this widespread urge… However, it is not clear how the … government proposes to move for a political settlement… The… government has to spell out its overall approach… The Polit Bureau… hopes that the implementation of the cease-fire will be followed by concomitant political steps which can pave the way for the solution to the problem…"

-- Politbureau, Communist Party of India (Marxist), November 20, 2000

"…Militants have no religion. They should be killed whenever and wherever possible…"

-- Satish Pradhan. Leader, Rajya Sabha, Shiv Sena, India

"…Vajpayee's offer was an important step and needed serious consideration by all thinking people, especially from the political elements… [India should] reduce presence in the Valley so as to create trust among the mujahideen and freedom fighters… Wali Khan… enjoys rapport with leaders of political opinion in both countries… I have requested him to come forward and help reduce tension between Pakistan and India so that we may achieve peace…"

-- Malik Qasim, President, Pakistan Muslim League (Qasim Group),
November 30, 2000


"… Pakistan had… hoped that India's suspension of military operations would be meaningful if talks between the two countries and the representatives of the Kashmiri people were held before the holy month was over… New Delhi seemed to have all but scuttled the peace prospects by saying India saw no immediate scope for the "so-called tripartite talks… What is most unfortunate about the latest Indian about-face is that it seems to take things back even beyond July when Hizbul Mujahideen surprised the world by offering a unilateral cease-fire… the categorical nature of the Indian rejection must come as a surprise even to neutral observers… If India is serious about peace in Kashmir, it should take the next logical step by agreeing to hold talks with both Pakistan and the Kashmiri leaders, the timing and modalities for which could be worked out through mutual discussions. Pakistan, it should be remembered, is the original party to the Kashmir dispute… There can, therefore, be no question of any talks on Kashmir's future without Pakistan's active participation.

-- Dawn, Pakistan, Editorial, December 8

"Pakistan's positive, though belated, response to India's Ramazan ceasefire in Kashmir, is a major step towards peace in South Asia… Pakistan's reciprocal gesture is encouraging… Inevitably, the question now is what next? …It is widely believed that the Vajpayee government is now serious about neutralizing opposition from the political forces in Kashmir by entering into a dialogue with them… Possibilities now are that the present ceasefire will mature into something more substantive. This calls for Pakistan to adopt a positive approach to the new Indian peace initiative and stop calling it a ploy to hoodwink the world opinion, as President Tarar had said…The major issue which calls for some serious rethinking in Islamabad is the stance it should adopt on the question of a dialogue with India on Kashmir… If the Kashmiris are willing to negotiate with India, we should encourage them to do so. But why should we insist on timeframes? When all the parties think the time has come to include Pakistan in the talks, the format can be broadened to do so. The Indian home minister, L.K. Advani, has described the present move as Lahore II. Let Islamabad reciprocate and show that it is also ready for peace."

-- Dawn, Pakistan, Editorial, December 4, 2000

"…The issue which comes as a cause of great dismay is the negative response to the Indian cease-fire offer ... This knee-jerk reaction from some Mujahideen groups jeopardizes the prospects of a peaceful solution. In view of the fact that a military conquest cannot resolve the Kashmir conflict, it is a pity that even a remote opportunity of a political option should be ignored… It is to be hoped that the bigger Kashmiri Mujahideen factions and the political groupings will deem it wise to reciprocate the cease-fire offer. Pakistan should also welcome it… Given this 'softening' of the Indian stance - even though a slight one - and the coming together of the political leadership from both sides of the LoC, one can hope for a favourable climate to be created to facilitate the initiation of a peace process if the situation is perceived as such."

-- Dawn, Pakistan, Editorial, November 21, 2000

"The move by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to declare a unilateral, month-long cease-fire… and the positive response to the move by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), considered Pakistan's proxy, has put Islamabad in a quandary…The Indian offer is a calculated one and New Delhi has moved in after consultations with at least some of the leaders of the APHC… Whether things have moved beyond the 'pre-negotiations' stage is not clear yet, but it appears that initial moves have already been made... It is intriguing and implies not only that there could be elements within the intelligence community who may not be very enthused by the prospects of a dialogue but that they might also be in a position to prevent the government from conceding to pressure on this count…The stress on sincerity and tripartite talks is vital for Pakistan since it believes, for good reason, too, that India wants breathing space to try and make it irrelevant by reaching out to the APHC... While the political leaders may opt for a dialogue, the militants could always be made to scuttle any such effort. To that extent, sincerity on both sides, and the ability to control elements on the ground, is a must for any talks to succeed".

--Friday Times, Pakistan, Editorial, December 1, 2000

The signals of stubbornness emanating from India on the Pakistan proposal for tripartite Kashmir talks are most discouraging… The… rejection… damps the expectation that the recent flurry of diplomatic activity may open the three-party dialogue door… Its public position that for the talks to resume, Pakistan will have to first halt what it calls "cross-border terrorism" and scale down the activity of Kashmiri fighter groups… is in effect an argument against accelerating the pace of the nascent peace process… The temptation in the face of Delhi's inflexibility and go-slow diplomacy can be to harden the stance as a reaction and, pointing to the lack of response from India, wind up the peace shop. The frustration must be fought off; the temptation ought to be resisted… A string of gestures by the Musharraf government and its openness to broaching all proposals for creating stability on the Line of Control has turned a difficult diplomatic situation around for Pakistan. The world… acknowledges us as part of the solution. This has rehabilitated some of our lost diplomatic clout on Kashmir… It is only logical, therefore, that a reactive policy on Kashmir is not pursued… There is a limit to which India can play the spoiler by saying that Pakistan will only be accepted as a qualified partner for dialogue if it meets its conditions. On the road of dialogue, Pakistan can afford to wait.

-- The News, Pakistan, Editorial, December 7, 2000

Pakistan's initiative to declare ceasefire on the Line of Control builds on the earlier attempts… to establish its sincerity in the international community about getting purposefully engaged with India…The measure announced by Delhi, backed by the US, the UK and other European countries, needed to be matched with a courageous and correct forward policy step, underlining the crucial fact that Islamabad's interest in reaching out to Delhi is deeper than mere verbal reiteration of commitment to peace.… the offer to the… Hurriyat to participate in a tripartite dialogue on Kashmir… broadens the scope of Pakistan's approach towards Kashmir for it officially acknowledges the Kashmiris as equal stakeholders in the consultative process for peace. Furthermore… it paves another way for negotiations... Kashmiris can play a viable go-between India and Pakistan facilitating understandings and deals that are harder… to reach bilaterally. A quieter Line of Control and a Kashmiris-led talks process is as good a proposition as can be conceived under the prevailing circumstances. If India keeps its word on the Ramazan restraint… [and] further strengthens it with scaled-down troops presence, and does not replay the silly game of not recognising the locus standi of the APHC and other Pakistan sympathetic groups as legitimate representatives of the Kashmiris, we may finally be seeing the elements of substantive peace process being put in place.

-- The News, Editorial, December 4, 2000

"…How far the move will go hinges entirely on the sincerity of purpose of the Vajpayee government… For Vajpayee to discover the wisdom of ‘living in peace and harmony’ in the true spirit of Ramazan is departure from the basic premise of the Indian policy to shoot at sight and kill without restraint. It is also a climb-down from the public posture of the Indian establishment… He wants to cement his government's credentials in the world as a ‘reasonable’ entity that does not let sordid emotions over-run demands of pragmatism."

-- The News, Pakistan, Editorial, November 21, 2000

The… All Parties Hurriyat Conference lost no time in returning a positive though understandably conditional response to the [cease-fire] offer from New Delhi… The APHC insists that without Pakistan being a party to it, no resolution of the dispute is possible… So far…India… has not been able to see it's way to accepting this proposition… And so long as this blind spot remains… it is hard to see how gestures like the Ramazan-related offer… are going to cut a way through the hard rocks of India's obduracy… From Pakistan's point of view, it is gratifying that Islamabad has taken due note… and announced "maximum restraint"… to strengthen and stabilize [the] cease-fire… On the one hand India goes on day in and day out complaining of "cross-border" terrorism and on the other it remains impervious to the obvious logic of having the border, the LoC, monitored to prevent the alleged "cross-border" terror… Indian's position has been an extraordinary record of shifting the goalpost… Now we are supposed to believe that there is a sort of cease-fire offer from New Delhi, in consideration of the 'spirit of Ramazan'. Very well, we take them at their word and will wait and see what comes of it… You do not lose anything in being sensible. And our Foreign Office has been eminently sensible. Will it stay so? Let us hope so.

-- Frontier Post, Pakistan, Editorial, December 5, 2000

"...The Harkatul Mujahideen …Lashkar-i-Taiba… Al Badr … are of the view that the move is intended to befool and mislead the international community. This may well be so... But it is a dexterous move he has made… And that makes it all the more reason that Mr. Vajpayee's announcement be considered dispassionately in all its pros and cons and a well-thought-out response be made… And they need to show an exceptional wisdom and maturity to meet its challenge... They must respond positively, making it absolutely clear at the same time that they would want the ceasefire to become the occasion for launching a comprehensive dialogue between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris for the final resolution of the Kashmir dispute…. Indeed, an outright rejection of the announcement and the declaration to continue fighting by the freedom fighters would only earn them discredit from the international community… A wise response on positive lines, on the other hand, would win them possibly the international support and goodwill for their cause…There can be no military solution to the Kashmir tangle… This can be unravelled only through peaceful dialogue and negotiations…"

-- Frontier Post, Pakistan, Editorial, November 22, 2000

Pakistan's decision [on] ``maximum restraint'' is a positive development... No less significant is the parallel affirmation… of a desire for a ``meaningful dialogue'' with India... However, Pakistan will do well… by expressing an explicit commitment to revive the Lahore process and explore the avenues for… CBMs ... [It] will suit its tactical and strategic purposes as well… In fact, the hawks in New Delhi... will then find it less defensible to stick to their position of non-engagement… Since… [the] Kargil conflict, [India] has remained hostile to the idea of any engagement with Pakistan in the absence of a perceivable halt to its transparent support for ``cross-border terrorism''. Now, …the bilateral ambience will dramatically improve if Pakistan opts for a positive pledge in regard to the inter- related issues of the Lahore process and CBMs… Statesmanship demands that New Delhi, too, assess the emerging context in a perspective framework beyond the myopic range of tit-for-tat gamesmanship… it simply is bad diplomacy without prejudice to the ground realities… The totality of Islamabad's statement reflects shift towards the primacy of tripartite talks involving Pakistan, India as also its separatist-militants and Pakistan-identified ``true representatives'' of the Kashmiri people…The Vajpayee administration should not… slam the door on the idea of resuming talks with Pakistan on issues of immediate interest. This will be compatible with the principle of direct talks between New Delhi and the Kashmiri groups.

-- The Hindu, India, Editorial, December 6, 2000

"...There can be little doubt that the ceasefire offer creates some space for dialogue, a process which indisputably holds the key to the vexed Kashmir problem... That the initiative should not be dismissed peremptorily is also unexceptionable... But the crucial question is how exactly the Vajpayee regime proposes to use that `space'… Its strategy, as far as can be discerned from its track record and policy articulations, seems to be to draw a distinction between what it sees as `indigenous' groups, as against those which are supposed to be dominated by Pakistan-trained foreign mercenaries. No less disconcerting is the Vajpayee Government's palpable lack of earnestness in fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir on the `autonomy' front… Given this context… whatever exercise is embarked upon by way of using the ceasefire-created space for dialogue with separatist groups will lack credibility and is unlikely to be meaningful. Further, it is bound to get stymied by the Vajpayee regime's unrealistic stance against an engagement of Pakistan. In the absence of a cohesive multi-track approach that recognises the three distinct strands of the highly complex Kashmir problem - represented by the National Conference and other mainstream political parties; the separatist groups under the Hurriyat umbrella; and inevitably, in the final analysis, Pakistan - a solution is likely to remain elusive".

-- The Hindu, India, Editorial, November 21, 2000

"… New Delhi's initiative gives a face-saving device to Islamabad and its proxies to de-escalate violence in the Valley and enable the resumption of dialogue, with not only the militants but Pakistan as well… The cease-fire gives the Pakistani government an opportunity to prove that it is in control of the situation in its territory, and is interested in a negotiated settlement with India… Inevitably there will be hard-liners in the Pakistani army and among the jihadi groups, who would like to subvert any attempt towards peace… If that were to happen, the international community will be compelled to conclude that General Musharraf is in no position to reach a peaceful agreement with India… Prime Minister Vajpayee has displayed a high order of statesmanship with this initiative, though he also runs the risks of once again being betrayed as he was after his Lahore bus ride. However, so long as the security forces remain vigilant there is nothing to be lost by the ceasefire offer... Simultaneously, an imaginative information campaign needs to be launched in Jammu and Kashmir to enlighten the people on the benefits of the cease-fire and the consequences of its rejection. A vigorous diplomatic drive in all international capitals and on the electronic media is also called for as a follow-up".

-- Times of India, Editorial, November 22, 2000

… With Pakistan's decision to observe 'restraint' at the Line of Control, the matter is no longer confined to the subversives but has acquired an entirely new dimension… there is a realisation in Islamabad that its present game plan… had led to a dead end. First, Pakistan was uncertain whether the varying responses by the different groups of militants to the Indian gesture would not lead to a rupture in their ranks. Such a development would mean that Pakistan's decade-long proxy war in Kashmir will come to a messy end, especially if the foreign mercenaries employed by it are evicted from the state. Secondly, Pakistan must have also become aware of its increasing diplomatic isolation because of the refusal of the terrorist groups based on its territory to respond to the peace initiatives… The Indian insistence on a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem, evident in Mr Vajpayee's Lahore trip and in the offer of cease-fire, is seemingly at last bearing fruit. International pressure on Pakistan and war-weariness in Kashmir may have played a part, but credit for the latest turn of events must go to the remarkably restrained role that India had played during the Kargil conflict… as well as before the intrusion and afterwards.

-- Hindustan Times, India, Editorial, December 5, 2000

"… The Prime Minister's initiative should help to put the options before the militant groups operating in the state in a clearer perspective. Ever since the Hizbul Mujahideen's offer of a cease-fire… came a cropper earlier this year, there has been considerable confusion over what the insurgents have in mind... The Prime Minister's offer has a better chance of being appreciated by the Valley-based elements than those who operate from bases in Pakistan… The latter, in any case, may seek to attach conditions to their acceptance or find other ways of saying no… It is quite likely that some of the groups may go along with the cease-fire offer while others will turn it down on some pretext or the other… That might be one way for the militants to keep their options open… There is a growing constituency of people in the Valley who are sick today of the continuing violence and fervently wish for peace… This constituency… will discern a ray of light in the… offer. Although this initiative represents no more than a small step on the long road to peace in Kashmir, it is nevertheless a step that carries the possibility of gradually overcoming the many hurdles that lie ahead".

-- Hindustan Times, India, Editorial, November 21, 2000

India's announcement of a one-month cease-fire in its perennially troubled state of Kashmir is welcome. It was immediately dismissed by local militant groups and Pakistan, but Muslim political parties in Kashmir have given a more positive response. The Kashmir conflict is a potential trigger for nuclear war... Several parties to the fighting have now expressed interest in a political solution. If Kashmiri rebel groups would reconsider their initial rejection, India's cease-fire could be a first step toward achieving one. The last attempt at a cease-fire… at the initiative of… the Hizbul Mujahideen… broke down when Hizb insisted that Pakistan be included in peace negotiations and India refused. The same issue has led Hizb to dismiss India's new cease-fire. But both sides should consider a compromise that might lead to a Pakistani role in the talks some time after they have gotten under way. With both India and Pakistan now possessing nuclear weapons and missiles, a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute must be found. India's cease-fire, which is to take effect with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan, can be a first step toward exploring one. Broadly inclusive peace talks should be the next.

-- New York Times, Editorial, November 24, 2000

"With its surprise offer of a truce in the Kashmir conflict this week, India's government sought to woo Kashmir-based separatist guerrillas into peace talks and break their sometimes uneasy alliance with Pakistan-based Muslim extremists". It opined that with the same gesture, India has aimed to test Pakistan's claims that it seeks a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue. The report indicated that "Cautious and contradictory reactions to India's offer suggested its task will not be easy. Nevertheless, there were signs that key players hope to prevent the truce proposal from collapsing like a cease-fire called in July by the largest Kashmir-based guerrilla group, the Hizbul Mujaheddin".

-- Washington Post, Report: "India Tests Pakistan, Woos Kashmiri Rebels", November 24, 2000

"…It is a gesture that must be welcomed most unequivocally… The Vajpayee government has in one fell swoop achieved three goals. One, it has proffered perhaps the most tangible proof in more than a decade of New Delhi's sincerity in pursuing the path to peace. Two… the government has put the cat among the pigeons… Three, the government has deftly seized the initiative from Pakistan… If the long-term objective is a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem, one of the short-term strategies must be the isolation of pro-Pakistani groups…That Farooq Abdullahtoo has endorsed the cessation of combat operations is encouraging… The renewed threat of being isolated from any emerging dialogue between New Delhi and Kashmiri groups is bound to rattle jihadi groups… Given the number of gun-wielding foreigners in the Valley… the security forces must be on their guard to prevent any repeat of the synchronised massacres of August 1. As for Islamabad, this is the hour for it to give evidence of its offers to repair relations with New Delhi. If the Pakistan government sabotages peace moves yet again, not only would it force itself into a corner, it could also force a split in the Hizbul Mujahideen".

-- Indian Express, Editorial, November 21, 2000





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