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December 31, 1999
Formal recognition of Taleban by India on the cards
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
The price for resolving the hijack crisis, involving Indian Airlines Flight IC 814, could include conditions not yet made public. One of these could be India's official recognition of the Taleban government, according to at least two senior security analysts who were part of the government consultations. The agreement "probably includes a couple of more issues," they said.
A key issue is the establishment of contacts with the Taleban regime. Security analysts and independent observers said the government had no option but agree to some of the terms and conditions of the hijackers and of the mediators, the Taleban government.
Pran Chopra, senior columnist and a member of the Centre for Policy Research, said, "very soon we will recognise the Taleban regime." He pointed out that "we stand to gain from it." He added, "Although it was unfortunate in some respects, it was unavoidable to strike a deal. There were 160 lives involved."
A highly respected security analyst told rediff.com this afternoon that "a deal was inevitable because the lives of 160 people were involved and a commando action was ruled out because the plane was in a foreign country." He pointed out that bilateral contacts with Taleban are on the cards.
He said the government will have to "take some opportunity" to establish contact with the Taleban regime. He said it could begin in the form of humanitarian aid, medical assistance etc. We could also discuss with the government ways of countering trans-border terrorism." On Osama Bin Laden, he said, "It is none of our problem, it is America's."
Another senior security analyst, refusing to be named at this juncture, said, "Everyone has his or her own judgment, but it should be understood that we were negotiating from a position of weakness." He claimed that the release of militants would have "no major impact as some analysts and Pakistan might say," adding, "terrorism has its own momentum, and this will not encourage terrorism.''
"If there is a way, then you should have taken these chaps and shot them dead. Why should you send such people to jail?'' he said, explaining further that if the hijackers had demanded an open trial of Maulana Azhar Masood, "he would have gone scotfree in three months. There is no evidence against him."
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