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Who was responsible for hijacking the plane

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    Who was responsible for hijacking the plane

    India's top security adviser on Sunday accused neighbor and nuclear rival Pakistan of having links with the five men who hijacked an Indian Airlines plane on Christmas Eve, holding 155 people hostage.
    Indian intelligence intercepted several radio conversations between militant groups in Kashmir, confirming that Pakistan was involved.
    "It is clear (Pakistan) is a terrorist state," said Mishra, India's national security adviser. "The establishment backs terrorism."

    The hostages were freed on Friday after being held for eight days, but the crisis raised tensions between India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed countries that have fought three wars over the past half-century.
    Two of those wars were over Kashmir. India accuses Pakistan of backing a decade-long insurgency in Kashmir, the Himalayan territory that is divided between the two countries. Pakistan denies the charge and says it provides only moral support to the movement.
    The five hijackers acted in support of Kashmir militants fighting against Indian control of the Himalayan territory. They fled the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, leaving the airport with three Kashmir militants who had been released from Indian jails in a deal to free the hostages.
    Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia gave the hijackers 10 hours to get out of the country. They remained out of sight Sunday, while India and Pakistan feuded over their identities and their whereabouts.
    India claims the five are Pakistani citizens who crossed back into their homeland from Afghanistan, and were near the southwestern city of Quetta.

    "We have the names of all the hijackers who are Pakistani, and the list of militants they wanted to be released contained a majority of Pakistani nationals," Mishra said.
    In one of the messages intercepted -- a discussion between members of two different separatist organizations -- one man asked why the other had condemned the hijacking, saying that the hijackers were acting on the instructions of Pakistan.
    Mishra also said that an alleged refusal by Pakistan to accept some of the sick and injured passengers when the plane temporarily landed at Lahore indicated Islamabad complicity in the crisis.
    "It is clear that Pakistan is showing enmity," said Mishra, who is also Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's principal secretary. "As long as this enmity continues, there can be no talks between us."

    Within days they are likely to be in Pakistan administered Kashmir and boasting of their achievements, said Hamid Gul, a retired general and former head of Pakistan's secret service.
    "The borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan are very porous. There is no way you could monitor them or exercise control over them there", he said. "In the area there are tribes which straddle both sides. They can give them sanctuary and will not hand them over".

    One of three prisoners freed by India to end an eight-day hijacking crisis in Afghanistan made a telephone call to his family in Pakistan, a family member said today.
    Masood Azhar made the call late Friday from Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, according to a female member of the family who refused to be identified. The whereabouts of the five hijackers remained a mystery, as did the location of the three men India released from jail in exchange for 155 hostages held aboard Indian Airlines Flight 814.
    Azhar, the son of a retired Pakistani school teacher from Bawahalpur in the eastern province of Punjab, was freed along with Ahmed Umar Saeed Sheikh, a Pakistani-born British citizen, and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, an Indian from Kashmir.
    The three men allegedly have been involved in the bitter and bloody insurgency in Indian-held Kashmir, where militants are fighting for outright independence or union with Islamic Pakistan.
    When he telephoned home, Azhar spoke to his father, the family member said.
    Azhar and the other two men were brought to southern Afghanistan from India along with Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh. Minutes after the three prisoners were handed over to the five hijackers on Friday, they all roared out of the Kandahar airport in a window-blackened vehicle, and the passengers aboard the aircraft were freed.
    One Canadian woman among the hostages, Shirley Macklin, said in an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio from New Delhi, India, that the men who hijacked the Indian Airlines jet were intelligent, well-organized and exceptionally cruel. She said she comforted herself during the ordeal by thinking about her family and doing yoga exercises.

    In Washington leading Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman has said the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane was part of Islamabad's "proxy war" with New Delhi and a "hegemonistic" campaign of certain sections in Pakistan to "dismember" India.
    The hijacking was "very much part of a proxy war that India has been confronting in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab for over a decade," Ackerman said.
    The hijackers have been identified as Pakistani nationals and their demand to release Maulana Masood Azhar who is a leading official of the Pakistan-based Harkat Ul-Ansar "again clearly points the finger at certain elements in Islamabad that continue to play a critical role in sponsoring and sustaining terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir", he said.
    Rejecting Pakistan's oft-repeated claim that the core issue between India and Pakistan is Kashmir, Ackerman said "Any military or terrorist action to change the status quo in Jammu and Kashmir is unacceptable to international community.
    "In fact, the core issue is not Kashmir. Instead, the core issue is the hegemonistic hopes of certain sectors of the Pakistani National Security apparatus that by certain covert or overt actions, or a combination thereof, India can be successfully dismembered," he said.
    "It is this central aspiration that fuels all violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The latest incident of hijacking is nothing but yet another manifestation of this miscalculation," Ackerman, said.

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