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PM mum on Musharraf's memoirs

PM prefers remaining quiet on the issue as he has to do business with the Pak President, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2006 22:03 IST

Manmohan Singh has to do business with Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani Army chief, President and now author rolled into one. So mum is the word.

Singh on Saturday said he had indeed "read parts" of Musharraf's controversial memoirs but would not say what he thought of them. Singh, in fact, was one of the few people in India to have been able to access the book before its formal release in the United States.

Musharraf's critics in India have charged him of trying to re-write history rather than just recording it; right from his version of the events leading to the Kargil conflict—it does though admit for the first time the active involvement of Pakistani forces—to the president's charge that India had gone shopping in AQ Khan's nuclear black-market.

Former Army chief VP Malik has said the book was "full of fabrication"; National Security Adviser MK Narayanan dubbed the accusation of India's nuclear programme having its roots in the Dubai-based network linked to Khan as "absolute rubbish" and a "deliberate distortion".

Narayanan's boss, Manmohan Singh, however, dropped a broad hint on Saturday that he had no kind words for the president's autobiography. "It is a very interesting book," the prime minister initially said. But when he was asked for his views on the points made in the book, Singh said he could not comment on the comments.

The explanation followed. "India and Pakistan have business to do. (Author) Pervez Musharraf is the President of Pakistan. So I would not like to comment on the contents".

Former defence minister George Fernandes, however, had no such luck. Singh did not comment on reports that the former defence minister was under investigation. But when asked if he was surprised at Fernandes' belligerent reaction to reports on his alleged involvement, the prime minister smiled: "Nothing surprises me, particularly a comment from George Fernandes".