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NSA's clarification on television interview

February 04, 2009 15:14 IST
Last Updated: February 04, 2009 16:59 IST

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan on Wednesday issued a curious 'clarification' on his recent comments that US President Barack Obama [Images] would be 'barking up the wrong tree' if he links Kashmir issue with addressing the turmoil in Pakistan's tribal areas.

A brief statement issued by the media adviser to the prime minister said that "references made" by Narayanan in an interview to television journalist Karan Thapar "were answers to specific questions put by the interviewer".

"It is further clarified that the underlying theme of the reply to the question on Indo-US relations was the high expectation India had from the Obama Administration with a hope being expressed that it would be possible for India to make the new Administration appreciate India's positions and views on the region, including Kashmir," the Media Adviser's statement said.

Surprisingly, the statement did not make any mention of Narayanan's controversial statement in the same interview that Pakistan had reverted to India with a number of questions on the Indian dossier on the Mumbai [Images] terror attack, a comment that directly contradicts the stand taken by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee [Images].

The minister had maintained that Pakistan had not officially responded to India.

The contradictions have prompted suggestions in the media that the government was speaking in different voices on Pakistan and that there was a rift at the top in the government on the issue.

The "clarification", however, made a mention of another point Narayanan had made in the interview about former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] that it was possible for India to do business with him.

The statement said the reference to the situation in Pakistan and the role of Musharraf were also made in the context of specific questions put by the interviewer.

"Selective quotes taken out of context from the detailed answers have tended to give a distorted idea of what was actually said," it added.

In the interview Narayanan was asked whether doing business with Pakistan after the resignation of Musharraf had become more difficult.

Narayanan had replied "From an Indian standpoint I would say yes... I think, as far as India was concerned, particularly with regard to the vexed questions that we had on Kashmir, etc., it was possible to do business with him and I think our prime minister's well-worn statement, namely that can do business with President Musharraf, is, I think, now is widely recognised as a part of the truth."

He had said that during the period between 2005 and 2006, a great deal was achieved in terms of trying to arrive at a modus vivendi on some of the most difficult issues and questions.

Had Musharraf not got caught in problems with the judiciary, perhaps India might have had a much better breakthrough rather than merely the confidence building measures that were taken in the two or three years that he was in office, the NSA had said.

Narayanan also said that there was "tremendous warmth" in the relationship between President Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and may be less so between Pakistan Prime Minister Geelani and Singh.

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