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Cooperate or we cut off, NSA to Pak

Agencies
Oct 22, 2006 at 01:14pm IST

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New Delhi: India will share intelligence with Pakistan under the joint anti-terror mechanism only if New Delhi sees a 'great deal' of cooperation from the neighbouring country, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has said.

He said India will never adopt a soft stand against Pakistan on terrorism and New Delhi will call off the controversial joint mechanism to deal with the menace if Islamabad persistantly refused to cooperate in terror cases, including the July 11 Mumbai blasts.

Expressing the hope that the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan would be involved in the joint mechanism, Narayanan said India would provide the evidence it had on cross-border terror to Islamabad.

He said 'pretty good evidence' of ISI's involvement in the Mumbai blasts would be shared with Pakistan after 'certain legal issues' are clarified and hoped this would be done before the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries meet in New Delhi during November 13-15.

"This is entirely a counter-terrorism investigation mechanism... If the anti-terrorism mechanism goes forward and we see there is a great deal of cooperation forthcoming from Pakistan and there is a great deal of comfort between India and Pakistan, then may be we could (share intelligence)," Narayanan said on the Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN when asked if intelligence would be shared with Pakistan.

"That (sharing intelligence) is our ultimate hope. But that's at a much later stage," he added.

Narayanan said the mechanism would mostly deal with ongoing investigations and sharing of information and could look into issues like money laundering. The mechanism, to be headed by a special secretary or additional secretary, will function as and when required as it is meant to deal with terrorism, he said.

Narayanan said the mechanism is aimed at putting Pakistan 'on the spot' and that it will be given a 'fair opportunity' before India decides whether the mechanism is working or not.

"If every time we give them information, we get a negative answer, then we know the mechanism is not working and we have to see what to do," he said. Narayanan said India will give information to Pakistan and ask it to come back with what action it takes.

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"It is possible that in the first case, in the second case, they may not come back. But if it happens in every case, we will be clear the mechanism is not working and we can also tell Pakistan and rest of the world, there is no point in talking to them," the NSA said.

"Once we feel the mechanism is not working, we will call it off," he said. On the issue of providing evidence regarding the Mumbai

blasts, Narayanan said, "There are certain legal issues which we have to clarify. As soon as they are clarified, we would be ready to present the evidence."

He said the government did not want "something to be done which could then impede or hamper the prosecution of the case in Indian courts. We don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water in this case."

He hoped the legal issues would be cleared by the time the Foreign Secretaries meet in November. "In a particular instance of major terrorism where we have what we regard as definite proof of Pakistani involvement, or involvement of terrorist outfits in Pakistan and since we are not prepared to hot pursuit and that kind of stuff, let us see what Pakistan does with the evidence we give them," he said.

He said India hoped to be able to give Pakistan 'specific' locations, names and telephone numbers. "If Pakistan delivers on some, even if not all, then at least we will feel the mechanism is reasonably successful."

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Narayanan said Pakistan has "always told us if you give us the evidence, we will help you with the investigation. Now, we are giving them an opportunity to prove in deeds what they have said in words. From our point of view, we see it as an opportunity."

He underlined that "most, if not all, the terror is coming (into India) from across the border. The country which is identified as the aggressor in these matters is Pakistan." Narayanan also sought to correct the impression with regard to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's comment last month that Pakistan was also a victim of terror.

"He (Singh) was not equating what was happening in Pakistan with what is happening in India or (ignoring) what we in this country feel that Pakistan is responsible for most of the terrorist attacks taking place in this country," he said.

"It was not as if he was equating the levels of violence and the levels of terrorist activities," he said, adding what the Prime Minister said was a "fact -- a fact that there have been terrorist incidents in Pakistan and that Gen Musharraf has been a target... He just mentioned a fact, he was not making a value judgment."

Narayanan said the Prime Minister was not 'naive or weak' as was being painted by some people in the country and that he was strong on terror, but dignified in his approach.

"What he (Singh) does not want is to get into a huge slanging match and the rather unseemly spectacle of the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan exchanging words through the media, outside the media, across the globe, etc," he said.

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