Agencies fear for Vajpayee’s security in Pakistan
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: Indian security agencies are pressing for the cancellation of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s trip to Islamabad to attend the SAARC summit scheduled to start on January 4.
Soon after the assassination attempt on President General Pervez Musharraf on Thursday, 10 days after the last such attempt, security and intelligence agencies here rushed to Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra and asked him to consider if Mr Vajpayee could drop his Islamabad trip because of security concerns.
In a confidential note rushed to Mr Mishra following a meeting of the agencies under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Kamal Pande, doubts have been raised at the ability of the Pakistani government to provide logistical security support to the Indian agents to ensure foolproof security cover to Mr Vajpayee during his stay in Islamabad.
The note clearly says that the security environment in Islamabad was not conducive to Mr Vajpayee’s travel since the advance team of the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) that returned to Delhi on Monday found the attitude of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, equivalent to the Indian Home Ministry, quite lukewarm.
A top source in the Cabinet Secretariat said that Mr Mishra, who is also the national security advisor, had been apprised about a lot of “grey areas” identified by the SPG’s advance team in a separate detailed study note sent to him about the security environment in Islamabad. The confidential letter from SPG Director RN Dash, who headed the advance team to Islamabad, to the cabinet secretary, keeps “alarm bells on” regarding several risk factors that would have to be tackled in protecting Mr Vajpayee. Mr Dash is worried that the usual support provided by the host country may not be available. Instead of cooperating with the SPG agents, the Pakistani security set-up appears hostile, the letter stressed.
Both the PM’s principal secretary and the cabinet secretary have been approached by the intelligence agencies to point out that they would have to take responsibility to coordinate security for the prime minister because the security secretary who generally coordinates the PM’s foreign visits was not there.