Hijacking Heats Up India-Pakistan Tensions

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Last week's Indian Airlines hijack drama may have ended peacefully, but don't expect that to foster regional peace. India has blamed the hijacking directly on Pakistan, whose involvement New Delhi claimed to have proved Thursday when Home Minister L. K. Advani announced what he said were the names of the five hijackers — all of them Pakistani. Advani said India had learned of their identities after arresting four men in Bombay — two Pakistanis, a Nepalese and an Indian — one of whom had allegedly been in phone contact with the hijackers during the course of the drama.

Pakistan actively backs the Kashmiri separatist organizations that the hijackers support, but Islamabad has vehemently denied any involvement in the incident — and at one point even accused India of hijacking its own plane in order to point a finger at Pakistan. While Pakistan's military ruler, General Parvez Musharraf, officially condemned the hijacking, his armed forces — still smarting from their political defeat in last year's attempted land grab in the Indian-controlled section of Kashmir — don't appear set to rein in anti-Indian terrorism originating within Pakistani borders. Maulana Masood Azhar, the Pakistani cleric whose release from an Indian prison was the key demand of the Indian Airlines hijackers, celebrated his release at a rally in Karachi, Pakistan, on Wednesday, where he urged all Muslims not to rest "until we have destroyed America and India." And that's not going to make Bill Clinton's job any easier if he proceeds with plans to visit the region in March to press for a peaceful resolution of the five-decade-long conflict between India and Pakistan.