The United Jehad Council, an amalgam of more than a dozen Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir-based militant outfits, has expressed willingness to enter into a dialogue with New Delhi in response to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent invitation for talks.
"The Government of India must realize that the bilateral efforts made in the past have proved futile due to the absence of the real Kashmiri representatives in such initiatives. India's stubborn attitude towards Kashmir issue has always been an impediment in the meaningful talks," Syed Sadaqat Hussain, a spokesman of the UJC, was quoted by local dailies in Srinagar on Wednesday.
The UJC's new stand was lead story of most of the English and Urdu dailies in Srinagar today. The militant conglomerate, though have set pre-conditions for the talks, has scaled down on their demands compared to its past statements on dialogue.
"If Dr Manmohan Singh is sincere on initiating meaningful talks with militant leadership, he must take these initiatives to set the process in motion," said Hussain.
The pre-conditions set by the UJC to sit with New Delhi are revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA), release of political detainees and curbing all kinds of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. Moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for creating conducive atmosphere for a dialogue has put the same conditions forth.
Conspicuously, the traditional line to declare Kashmir as a dispute by India was missing in the UJC statement.
"There should be no precondition like asking militants to lay down arms before entering into any parleys. If the talks process (with militant leadership) is initiated in good faith and with a sincerity of purpose and it makes headway towards the resolution of the issue, the militant activities would cease on their own," said Hussian.
Dr Manmohan Singh had at a press conference in Delhi on Monday said his government was ready to hold dialogue with all groups in Jammu and Kashmir "which are outside the political mainstream provided they shun violence."
Past dialogue initiative
In July 2000 Hizbul Mujahideen, largest indigenous militant outfit of Kashmir, declared a unilateral cease-fire.
The cease-fire collapsed after two rounds of talks in Srinagar
The Government of India took another initiative by declaring a unilateral cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir on 19 November 2000 in view of the holy month of Ramadhan. The ceasefire was initiated by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.