India-Pakistan: December 27, 1999

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Thirteen were killed and six injured in a gunfight between Sunni and Shiite Moslems in Islamabad, Pakistan.

December 25; Bangladesh received the first two of eight MiG-29s it bought from Russia. Nepal arrested four airport workers for aiding the hijackers of an Indian aircraft.

December 24; An Indian Airlines aircraft flying from Nepal to New Delhi was hijacked by six Moslem Kashmiris. The plane landed in India, Pakistan and Dubai before ending up in Kandahar, Afghanistan. on the 25rh. The hijackers demand the release of 36 Kashmiri terrorists, the body of one killed last year, and $200 million in cash. Intense negotiations follow, resulting in a deal on the 31st whereby India frees three terrorists, the hijackers abandon the aircraft and the 155 passengers unharmed (except for one who was killed on the first day, and several dozen women and children who were released earlier) and the Taliban give the hijackers (five, one apparently died during the hijacking) a truck and ten hours to get out of Afghanistan. The former hostages are all back in India by January 1st.

December 24; Pakistan is run by a defacto triumvirate consisting of three generals. General (four stars) Pervez Musharraf is the Chief Executive and Chief of the Army Staff. Lieutenant General (three stars) Mahmoud Ahmed is head of the ISI (the Pakistani CIA). A former artillery officer who once commanded the key 10th Corps, he is a lifelong friend of Musharraf and has been bringing local officers into the ISI to replace men appointed by the previous (civilian) government. Lieutenant General Mohammad Mir Aziz Khan is the Chief of Staff. He commanded troops in Kashmir and was most recently in command of the Afghan border. Known as a pro-Taliban hawk, he was the main provider of support for Taliban. Curiously, since the coup, Pakistan has scaled back its support for Taliban, closing the border to arms shipments and pulling its military advisors out of Taliban units. The reason for this move is not clear. Taliban suffered serious battlefield reverses in the second half of 1999, having two major offensives (both with massive ISI aid) stopped and all of the gains lost to Alliance counter-attacks. Pakistan is aware that the West regards Taliban as a pariah state which supports terrorism and oppresses its own people. --Stephen V Cole

 

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