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December 27, 1999
Musharraf denies Pak involvement in hijacking
Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf today criticised India for pointing an accusing finger at his country in connection with the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 on Friday.
He said the Indian leaders' accusations were a pathetic attempt at hiding their own failure in rescuing passengers at Amritsar where the hijacked plane had stopped for over 50 minutes before it was flown to Dubai and then to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Yesterday Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh had alleged that the hijackers, who boarded the IA flight 814 at Kathmandu, had arrived there on a Pakistan International Airlines plane. He had also charged that Pakistan had, on several occasions, tried to secure the release of Maulana Masood Azhar, a Harkat-ul-Ansar leader, whom the hijackers wanted freed from Indian captivity.
In a separate statement Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar said that the hijacking of the IA plane seemed to be part of New Delhi's ''design to malign and isolate Islamabad after the change of government in October.''
''Ever since October 12 (the day General Pervez Musharraf overthrew Nawaz Sharif's elected government in a bloodless coup) India had made every possible effort to isolate Pakistan.'' He cited Indian efforts to seek suspension of Pakistan's membership from the Commonwealth and postponement of the SAARC summit at Kathmandu as examples.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign office spokesman Tariq Altaf struck a moderate note and condemned the hijacking and hoped that the United Nations' efforts would lead to the safe release of all the passengers and the crew.
''It is our ardent hope that this tragedy comes to an early end and the passengers of the aircraft rejoin their families,'' he said.
Altaf said the Taleban regime had demonstrated maturity in inviting the United Nations' representatives to help resolve the crisis.
NIGHTMARE ON FLIGHT 814
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