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December 28, 1999
State Department Urges India, Pakistan To Stop Trading Accusations
A P Kamath
Without naming India and Pakistan, the State Department said on Monday that officials should restrict their public comments to those that save the lives of the 160 hostages held by militants in Kandahar. It said the countries in the region should work together to resolve the hijacking crisis.
The statement was part of Washington's reaction to the Indian Airlines hijacking, and the trading of accusations between Islamabad and New Delhi. Major American newspapers have written about India's charge that the hijackers reached Kathmandu on a Pakistan International Airlines plane, and Pakistan's foreign minister as saying that India staged the hijacking to discredit Pakistan's military government.
The New York Times ran a story on Page 12 on Monday with the headline: Standoff on Hijacked Jet Is Tangled in India-Pakistan Feud.
The State Department which 'condemned the hijacking in the strongest terms,' also said the hijackers were ultimately responsible for the lives of the hostages.
The statement said Maulana Masood Azhar, the imprisoned cleric whose release is demanded by the hijackers, is affiliated with the Harkat ul-Mujahiddin, which was formerly known as Harkat ul-Ansar and has been on the department's list of terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, many Indian American were reaching their Congressmen to remind them of Pakistan's continued support for the militants in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Whether Pakistan unofficially blessed this act or not," said G Desai, a techie in Los Angeles, "the hijacking is connected with the subversive activities Pakistan has been carrying on Indian soil."
It took quite a few weeks to convince the world that Pakistan was behind Kargil invasion, an Indian student in New York said. "Here, we may not know the truth for a longer time."
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