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India has "enough" evidence of Pakistan's role in hijack

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    India has "enough" evidence of Pakistan's role in hijack

    India has "enough" evidence of Pakistan's role in hijack: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

    NEW DELHI, Jan 4 (AFP) -
    Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Tuesday said New Delhi had "enough evidence" of Pakistan's involvement in the hijacking of an Indian plane.

    "We have enough evidence of Pakistan's involvement in the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft and we will disclose it at the appropriate time," Vajpayee told reporters.

    "We will try to get hijackers from there (Pakistan) for trial," Vajpayee said.

    He said the government was also in touch with authorities in Nepal on the issue of security lapses at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, the departure point of Indian Airlines' IC-814 which was hijacked on Christmas Eve.

    The plane was taken over by five masked men and flown to Afghanistan. After eight days New Delhi decided to cave in to the hijackers' demands and release pro-Kashmiri militants in exchange for the passengers and crew.

    India says all five hijackers of flight IC814 were Pakistanis, and that they and the three released militants are now probably in Pakistan.

    Indo-Pakistani relations have hit a new low as a result of the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 on Christmas Eve and the release of three militants imprisoned in India in exchange for hostages.

    Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India, made this plain yesterday when he told journalists in Pune: "India will work towards getting Pakistan declared a terrorist state." He said all the information available to the Indian government made it clear that the hijacking was "an integral part of the Pakistan-backed campaign of terrorism".

    Mr Vajpayee's remarks demonstrated a steep escalation of India and Pakistan's war of words over the hijacking, which ended on New Year's Eve. From the day the crisis broke, Indian officials made it plain they believe the hijacking was plotted by ISI, Pakistan's military intelligence. All they lacked, it seems, was evidence.

    It is still not clear how strong their evidence is, or whether it will convince an international community that cannot afford to antagonise a nuclear-armed Pakistan.

    Mr Vajpayee's rhetoric was another step on the road to further India-Pakistan armed confrontation, although on present form it is Pakistan that will chose the place, time and weapons. Since lobbying successfully for the condemnation of Pakistan at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in December, and later for the postponement of a summit meeting of South Asian countries, Mr Vajpayee has made his hostility to General Musharraf's regime very clear.

    The case for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state has been strong. The 10-year Kashmir insurgency has always enjoyed what Pakistan calls its "moral and diplomatic support". Few neutral observersdoubt that Pakistan's support is more useful than that. It spans allowing Kashmiri youths to train as guerrillas in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, close links between Islamic terror groups and Pakistani military intelligence, and the sponsoring of these groups to undertake guerrilla warfare inside Indian Kashmir.

    It was only in the first few years that its was solely a Kashmiri affair. Since then it has largely been hijacked by well-funded Punjabis and Pathans and others coming like freed militant leader Maulana Masood Azhar over the border from Pakistan.

    The Kargil mini-war in summer last year marked the crossing of a dangerous threshold. For the first time this "proxy war" (as India calls it) became the real thing as Pakistani and Indian troops faced each other on the Indian side of the line of control in Kashmir. That was why Pakistan insisted that only Mujaheddin freelance holy warriors were fighting on Indian soil, while regular Pakistani troops were merely supplying support from the Pakistani side of the line of control. Outside Pakistan, this claim was disbelieved.

    If India is right, the hijacking marks another reckless escalation. But that, of course, was exactly the idea. Among disaffected Kashmiris the great majority a cheer went up. India's only goal in Kashmir is to keep the issue under wraps, to avoid "internationalising" it, to "put a lid on that which stinks".Pakistan wants to let the stink disgust the world. Soon someone will recall that India promised Kashmiri a plebiscite on its future and the United Nations passed a resolution to that effect.

    The only thing that gets the world's attention is atrocities: the suicide attacks on army barracks in Kashmir in last month, yesterday's land-mine in a Srinagar market frequented by soldiers that killed 15 and injured 30. And, of course, the hijack.

    Such actions cheer and revive the militants fighting Indian forces in the Kashmir Valley, and remind world leaders that this continues to be what President Bill Clinton called "the most dangerous issue". Until India finds more imaginative answers than keeping the lid on, the cycle of terror is likely to intensify.


      What appropriate time. Present it or shut up.