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Saturday, January 2, 2010

UK not sharing Pak intel: India

Justify FullLONDON, Jan 02 : Notwithstanding a strategic partnership agreement between the two countries since 2004, an informed diplomatic source revealed that the British government is still reluctant to share intelligence about Pakistan with Indian officials.

Not unusually, the United Kingdom's Foreign & Commonwealth Office does not comment on security issues. However, an official said off the record: ``I am sure that's not correct.'' She added, “We work closely with India and Pakistan; and we've been quite supportive on the Mumbai terror attack, to bring to justice its perpetrators.''

The UK's solidarity on 26/11 is not in doubt. But it's equally true that British foreign secretary David Miliband rather hastily gave a clean chit to Pakistani authorities in respect of their involvement in the incident.

Furthermore, a stereotypical remark on 'working closely with India and Pakistan' in the current climate does not go down well with the Indian government, which sees no reason why, given recent history, Britain needs to sound even-handed. South Block's view is if Whitehall's mandarins don't believe that the powers-that-be in Islamabad are a problem, then this is a matter for concern, Times of India reported on Saturday.

More to the point, a senior aide of Brown, not so long ago, specifically declined to discuss Pakistan with a fairly high-level Indian diplomat. This not only flies in the face of the strategic partnership, but arguably demonstrates a lack of trust in India.

It is understandable that London is cautious about not upsetting Pakistan whose co-operation it requires in the midst of a crucial war against terror. But the Indian government also suspects the UK is not unsympathetic to Pakistan's avowed discomfort about Indian aid and consular activities in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, an opportunity to express India's displeasure regarding Britain withholding information on Pakistan would emerge in the event of a bilateral interface on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan here later this month, which external affairs minister S M Krishna has been invited to attend. The subject could also arise during national security adviser M K Narayanan's visit to London in February.

Britain generally restricts exchange of sensitive extracts to the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Regardless of much improved bilateral ties, India is not a part of this favoured group yet. INP

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