The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress wags ISI finger

New Delhi, Aug. 18: Sonia Gandhi today reminded the Centre of its promise to present a white paper on Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

“There was a time, not very long ago, when the ISI was believed to be behind every incident of terrorism in our country. The home minister had promised us a white paper on ISI activities in India. Four years later, we have still heard nothing,” she said.

The Congress chief raised the issue during her speech on the no-confidence motion her party moved in the Lok Sabha this morning.

Speaking for the Centre immediately after Sonia, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said the white paper was not placed in Parliament because intelligence agencies warned the move would jeopardise national security.

The issue, he said, was explained to the Consultative Committee of the House, attached to the home ministry, which then decided not to push the point. Advani had promised the white paper in the Lok Sabha during the 1998 monsoon session soon after the NDA government came to power.

An outraged army had first shot down the move. The government’s intelligence agencies, including the Research and Analysis Wing, also opposed the idea.

Officials emphasised that Advani had just come into the government back then and was, perhaps, unaware of the intricacies of administration. “No country can afford to have a white paper on the intelligence wing of another government and table it in Parliament. It is preposterous, unheard of. Governments are not run like that,” a senior government official said.

The reason, he said, is that a “white paper becomes a public document and the government is bound by whatever is in the report”. “No government can afford to make these charges public.”

But the Centre has provided foreign governments with documentary evidence on the ISI’s activities against India as part of Delhi’s domestic and international campaigns against Pakistan’s use of terrorism.

The move even paid off as the US, the UK and France — which had earlier shrugged off Delhi’s charges against Pakistan — gradually got around to acknowledging Islamabad’s role in abetting terrorism in India.

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