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Mukherjee Tells Nsa To Pipe Down

Mukherjee Tells Nsa To Pipe Down

Author: Rajeev Sharma
Publication: Free Press Journal
Date: February 4, 2009

You are not govt spokesperson, Pranab tells Narayanan

Officiating Prime Minister Pranab Mukherjee is understood to have taken strong exception to Na tional Security Advisor M K Narayanan's lavish praise for Pakistan and has told him to refrain from acting as spokesman of the government of India.

In an interview to CNN IBN on Sunday, Narayanan had said that Pakistan appeared to be taking the 26/11 dossier seriously. ''At least, they are proceeding in a manner that one would expect an investigating agency to proceed, asking queries and not taking everything that is given at face value.'' Narayanan also claimed that Pakistan had reverted on the Mumbai attacks dossier, contradicting the External Affairs Minister, who had said that Islamabad had not yet given its official response to the dossier. Mukherjee demonstrated on Tuesday that he, and not Narayanan, was the boss. Defence Minister A K Antony - - evidently on Mukherjee's instructions - delivered a hard-hitting speech at the 11th Asian Security Conference here and described Pakistan as "the epicenter of international terrorism". Mukherjee had also a frank discussion with Narayanan, where he questioned the latter's wisdom in singing paeans of Pakistan and its investigative agencies and contradicting Pranab himself, the senior most cabinet minister of Government of India. Narayanan's "tragic flaw" seems to be his penchant for making on-record foreign policy statements to media. Sources said so peeved was Mukherjee with Narayanan's out-of-sync comments that he crosschecked with the Ministry of Home Affairs whether Narayanan was correct in his assessment about handling of the dossier by agencies in Islamabad. The MHA's take was that it had no such information. Far from it, the MHA maintained that the Indian government had no reason to be happy or satisfied with how the Indian dossier was being handled at the Pakistani end. Mukherjee is also learnt to have taken up the matter with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. The External Affairs Minister went ahead and chided Narayanan only after getting the go-ahead from the party high command. In fact, the tone of the UPA government on Tuesday sounded rather shrill vis-a-vis Islamabad; Mukherjee was categorical that India was yet to receive any official response from Pakistan and said Narayanan had made his remarks in his personal capacity. "That he (Narayanan) has stated in his own way. But the fact of the matter is that after they (Pakistan) received material from us, we have not received any official communication (about the probe) from them," Mukherjee told reporters. Thus Mukherjee completely distanced the UPA Government from Narayanan's assessment that Islamabad is handling the probe in a 'professional' manner.

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