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December 31, 1999
Canada Says Hijacking Could be a Wakeup Call
A P Kamath
If the hijacking of Flight 814 is related to the Kashmir issue, it serves as "a wake up call" for India and Pakistan to resolve the larger conflict through negotiations, a spokesperson for Canada's department of foreign affairs has said.
While Canada asserted that "any terrorist activity to advance or to promote a political cause is not acceptable to us,'' Reynald Doiron of the DFA added: "It has to be doubly condemned if it stems from the India-Pakistan conflict about Kashmir.''
Neither military nor terrorist activities will help resolve the Kashmir conflict which has been hurting the two countries for many decades, he said.
"Any military or terrorist action to change the status quo in Kashmir, we hold as irresponsible on either side,'' he said.
There is a Canadian woman among the 155 hostages. The husband of a Toronto-born woman is also on board.
Earlier, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy had suggested that while he did not want to prejudge the negotiations between India and the hijackers, the safety and welfare of the passengers has to come first.
If making concessions was necessary to achieve the safety, Axworthy said the negotiators should urgently think about them.
He said in some situations, if a deal has to be made to save people, the perpetrators could be caught later and punished for their crime.
Canadian officials said Ottawa's policy dictates that resolving hostage crisis involved three principles:
* No substantial concessions should be made to hostage takers or kidnappers.
* Human life should be preserved without endangering the lives of others in the process.
* The rule of law should be upheld while seeking a peaceful, negotiated resolution of the incident.
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