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NSA puts foot in mouth, Govt red-faced

Feb 04, 2009 10:08 PM IST India India

New Delhi: National Security Advisor (NSA) MK Naraynan's candid statements on key issues like Kashmir, US President Barack Obama and former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf have caused considerable embarrassment in the Prime Ministers office. While speaking to CNN-IBN on Devil’s Advocate Narayanan had said, “I do think that we could make President Obama understand that he is barking up the wrong tree. I think Kashmir today has become one of the quieter and safer places in this part of the world.” Almost 72 hours later, an embarrassed Prime Minister's Office attempted to clarify that the answers given by Narayanan were only in response to specific questions. In a statement, the Prime Minister's media adviser said, "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." That is not the only embarrassment the candid interview has caused to South Block. Narayanan's appreciative mention of the previous Musharaff regime in Pakistan has also not gone down well, forcing the Government to claim that the NSA had been misquoted. Narayanan had said, “As far as India is concerned particularly with questions regarding Kashmir, it was possible to do business with him (Musharraf).” But the real controversy, as Wednesday morning's papers show, has been generated by the NSA's claim that Pakistan has responded to India's 26/11 dossier with queries, a statement denied by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. However, on this controversy, the NSA had nothing to say, thus clearly suggesting that he stands by what he said. Meanwhile, the Opposition was quick to seize upon these differences. Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Please speak in one voice otherwise it creates a lot of problems for the country.” For Narayanan though, the controversy couldn't have come at a worse time. With P Chidambaram taking complete control of the Home Ministry and Mukherjee asserting himself in a post 26/11 environment, the NSA's role has been diminished. For its part CNN-IBN would like to state that the two interviews were run in their entirety without any editing whatsoever.

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