A top Pakistani official promised in 1968 to help India research Subhas Chandra Bose’s secret journey to Europe during World War II, provided New Delhi kept the assistance a secret.
The Kolkata-based Netaji Research Bureau had asked then prime minister Indira Gandhi for help to collect information related to Netaji’s trip in 1941 through Peshawar, Kabul, Tashkent, Moscow and Berlin.
“In normal times, one could expect that the Pakistan government will render all cooperation... but in the present circumstances, it seems advisable to first consult our high commissioner,” the external affairs ministry joint secretary PRS Mani wrote.
When Indian high commissioner S Sen informally checked with Pakistan’s information secretary Altaf Gauhar, he was positive. The file, however, does not indicate if the offer materialised.
Gauhar was an influential civil servant in Pakistan in the sixties, largely on account of his proximity to President Ayub Khan that later cost him his job. He later went on to edit Pakistan’s English daily, Dawn, and was imprisoned twice.
Altaf Gauhar told Sen that he would try to get in touch with an official posted in Pakistan’s mission in Cairo who was supposed to be knowledgeable about Netaji’s journey.
“Secondly, Mr Altaf Gauhar advised that while there was no objection to this kind of scientific research being undertaken with Pakistan’s cooperation, no publicity should be given to this matter simply because Netaji’s background has many political implications which are not liked by several political elements,” Sen said in his report to the ministry.