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Published On:Saturday, November 17, 2012
Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian

Thaksin Shinawatra, Pervez Musharraf & HT leadership summit


| by B.Raman

( November 17, 2012, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) After the March 1993 serial explosions in Mumbai organised by Dawood Ibrahim, who was then living in Dubai, the Memon brothers and others trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who had allegedly carried out the conspiracy, escaped to Karachi via Kathmandu. They were given shelter in Karachi by the ISI.

Rajeev Shukla during the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit at Taj Palace in New Delhi. HT/Ajay Aggarwal
On coming to know of this, the Narasimha Rao Government then in office in the Government of India brought this to the notice of the US and sought its help for tracing them. The US Consulate in Karachi started making enquiries about their presence there.

The ISI thereupon had them flown to Bangkok where the perpetrators were kept in a hotel arranged by the Pakistani Embassy in Bangkok. After some months, the US Consulate in Karachi stopped making enquiries about their presence in Karachi. The ISI shifted them back to Karachi.

One of the perpetrators went to Kathmandu from Karachi and clandestinely entered India to meet a family friend. He was arrested by the Police and interrogated. During the interrogation, it came out that the perpetrators of the 1993 terrorist strikes organised by Dawood Ibrahim had been kept in Bangkok for some time by the ISI. In August 1994, Shri Padmanabiah, the then Home Secretary of the Government of India, held a press conference to announce the details of what the suspect had told the Police about the perpetrators of the 1993 terrorist strikes organised by Dawood Ibrahim being kept in a Bangkok hotel by the ISI after the commission of the terrorist strikes.

Around the same time, the “Far Eastern Economic Review”, then published from Hongkong, had carried a report alleging that Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra, who had won a telecom contract in Cambodia by bribing local Army officers, had tried to instigate a coup in Cambodia with the help of Cambodian Army officers in the pay of his company.

It also came out in India that the telecom company of Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra had been given a contract in Kolkata. The issue figured in the Lok Sabha. Our intelligence community drew the attention of Narasimha Rao to the allegations made against Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra’s telecom company in Cambodia by the “Far Eastern Economic Review”.

Narasimha Rao had it checked up whether background  enquiries regarding Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra had been made before his company was given the Kolkata contract. It was found that no such enquiries had been made.

Some years later, Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra entered politics and became the Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006. He was very well disposed towards India during his Prime Ministership and even earlier when he was a Deputy Prime Minister. He helped India in becoming a full dialogue partner of the ASEAN and was always positive in his attitude towards India. We were happy with him as a political leader, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister.

It came to notice during his Prime Ministership that he was maintaining equally close relationship with Gen.Pervez Musharraf, who was then in power in Pakistan. He had allegedly come to know Musharraf through Mr.Shaukat Aziz, a Pakistani businessman living in the Gulf, who became the Finance Minister of Musharraf and subsequently his Prime Minister in 2005. When Mr.Shaukat Aziz was the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra was the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin had worked hard to bring Pakistan and the ASEAN closer together.

As Prime Minister, Mr.Shaukat Aziz visited Bangkok from May 8 to 10,2005. Thaksin spent most of the time with him, drove him around and accompanied him for his courtesy call on the King of Thailand who was then staying in the interior. The close relations of Thaksin with Mr.Shaukat Aziz and through him with Gen.Pervez Musharraf came to notice during this period.

After leaving office, Musharraf against whom there is allegedly a non-bailable warrant in Pakistan in connection with the pending investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, has been living in London allegedly as a guest of Shaukat Aziz, the close friend of Thaksin.

It is intriguing that  despite this past history, Pervez Musharraf and Thaksin should have figured as honoured guests in the leadership summit of the “Hindustan Times” held at New Delhi on November 16 and 17 and should have been lionised by the CNN-IBN TV channel which was associated with the summit.

I had myself in the past spoken well of the helpful attitude of Thaksin to India, but at the same time I had been concerned over his closeness to Aziz.

I don’t know what is the objective of the so-called leadership summits and whether any purpose is served by issuing invitations that could become controversial and embarrassing.

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com  Twitter @SORBONNE75)

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