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Lashkar-e-Toiba spokesman Abdullah Muntazer
"We don't accept any ceasefire"
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The BBC's Zaffar Abbas
"Mr Salahuddin said the ceasefire was conditional"
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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Disarray over ceasefire offer
Hizbul Mujahideen's Kashmir commander Abdul Majid Dar (centre)
Abdul Majid Dar (centre) making the ceasefire announcement
The Pakistan-based commander of a Kashmiri militant group has endorsed a ceasefire offer to facilitate talks with India.

Syed Salahuddin, supreme commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, said the offer was a tactical move and that India must now respond positively.

But the offer has been rejected by other Pakistani-based militant groups and a BBC correspondent says the signs point to a rift between the groups.

We have thrown the ball in India's court. It must now respond positively

Hizbul commander Syed Salahuddin
The Indian Government has described the move as "positive".

Hizbul Mujahideen's field commander in Indian-administered Kashmir, Abdul Majid Dar, said on Monday his group was suspending its armed campaign for three months.

"India should come forward now to negotiate with Pakistan, the APHC (All Party Hurriyat Conference) and the Kashmiri leadership," he was quoted as saying by French news agency, AFP.

Hizbul Mujahideen was set up in 1990 and is believed to have close links to Pakistan's main religious party, the Jamaat-e-Islami.

It is considered one of the most powerful of the Kashmiri militant groups fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Members of a militant group
Pakistan-based militant groups: Will continue to fight
Welcoming the announcement, Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes said it was indicative of the disillusionment of the Kashmiri people with militancy in the state.

A member of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told Reuters that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told his party colleagues that "the government welcomes the ceasefire, we are willing to talk to anybody within the framework of the Indian constitution".

Pakistan-based groups

But Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups have termed the Hizbul ceasefire decision a betrayal.

We don't accept any ceasefire, and we will continue our jihad in Kashmir

Abdullah Muntazer, Lashkar-e-Toiba
Lashkar-e-Toiba, an armed group based in Lahore, told the BBC that it will continue its armed campaign in Indian-administered Kashmir.

"We don't accept any ceasefire, and we will continue our jihad in Kashmir - insha'Allah (God willing) - until India vacates its forces from Kashmir," Abdullah Muntazer, the group's spokesman said.

The United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of 14 militant groups based in Pakistani Kashmir, has also condemned Hizbul's decision to halt its armed struggle.

A meeting of its leaders has now been planned for Wednesday.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen is a member of the council, but it is not clear if it will attend the meeting.

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See also:

24 Jul 00 | South Asia
Kashmir militants offer ceasefire
05 Jun 00 | South Asia
Five dead in latest Kashmir violence
09 Jun 99 | South Asia
Who are the Kashmir militants?
19 Jan 00 | South Asia
On the defensive in Kashmir
15 Jul 99 | South Asia
Flashpoint Kashmir: Special Report
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