U.S. believes that terrorist group supported by Pakistan is responsible for hijacking of jet

Clinton administration considers placing nation on violence list

January 25, 2000|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- The United States believes that a terrorist group supported by the Pakistani military was responsible for the hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet last month, a judgment that puts Pakistan in danger of being placed on Washington's list of nations that support terrorism, Clinton administration officials said.

The new military leader of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was asked in a meeting with three administration officials in Islamabad last week to ban the group, Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, but the request was rebuffed, senior officials here said.

Musharraf was also asked to exert pressure on the Taliban government in Afghanistan, with which Pakistan has friendly relations, to expel Osama bin Laden, who was implicated in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, but no progress was made on that request either, the officials said.

The conclusion that a terrorist group supported by Pakistan carried out the hijacking comes as the White House must make a decision in the next weeks about whether President Clinton should visit Pakistan as part of his planned trip to India and Bangladesh at the end of March.

The visit to India is expected to be announced this week, with the option of a stopover in Pakistan in limbo pending gestures of cooperation by Pakistan, officials said.

Rejecting a presidential visit to Pakistan during a trip that includes a visit to India would be one of the severest snubs the White House could make, especially during the first presidential trip to the region in 21 years.

Information that Harkat ul-Mujahedeen was responsible for the hijacking came in the aftermath of the seizure of the jet, when it became clearer who made arrangements for the escape of the hijackers, administration officials said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.