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Surprising disclosure

Surprising disclosure

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: January 21, 2007

National security adviser M.K. Narayanan surprised the world, and more so India, with his long speech at the security conference in Munich where he disclosed for the first time that terrorists had manipulated the stock markets to generate funds, and had used legitimate banking channels to fund their operations. In a speech that can at best be described as a major disclosure, he spoke of the Habib Bank in Pakistan as an established banking channel. Although this last information is not new, he went on to claim that the stock exchanges in Mumbai and Chennai have reported that fictitious or notional companies were engaging in stock market operations and these companies were later traced to terrorist outfits. It is amazing that information of such import is not shared with Parliament, but with the delegates at an international conference in what can be described as a casual speech. Mr Narayanan even had the details of the terror fund trail, as to how Indian counter-terrorist agencies had detected not one, but several instances of funds being received via banking channels from so called safe locations such as Dubai and UAE intended for terrorist organisations. And that the individual transactions were usually small so as to avoid detection. The question that is begging an answer is: When and how did the government manage to track down this particular trail, and what has it done to secure the Indian financial system? It is strange why Mr Narayanan, who remains quite a recluse at home, chose to share such sensational details with delegates at Munich, without taking his own country into confidence. If the information of the kind he spoke of has been available with the government and the agencies, then the only reason they could not have shared it with India was it was too sensitive or an early disclosure would have jeopardised the investigation. Clearly, the last two reasons do not stand, as Mr Narayanan has spoken of this highly sensitive matter before a world audience. So the question that still remains unanswered is, what has the government done till date? Insofar as Pakistan is concerned, there appear to be two views emerging from the Prime Minister's Office. One, articulated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself about the need for peace, and a commitment to dialogue where these concerns are not voiced at all. The other from Mr Narayanan where he keeps referring to Pakistan-backed terrorism, with his speech painting a rather grim canvas of the neighbouring countries' involvement in the funding of terrorism. It is not clear where the two views converge, and whether the Prime Minister's fond vision of lunch in Amritsar and dinner in Lahore is possible in a scenario where one influential arm of the government is insistent that the terror activities in India can be traced directly to Islamabad's door.


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