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Updated: April 12, 2012 14:21 IST

How India kept Kashmir out of U.S. Af-Pak envoy's brief

Mukund Padmanabhan
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Then Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke (left) in this 2009 photograph. New Delhi sent out an unequivocal message to Washington that any move to include India in Holbrooke's brief would be
AP Then Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke (left) in this 2009 photograph. New Delhi sent out an unequivocal message to Washington that any move to include India in Holbrooke's brief would be "unacceptable".

Weeks before the Obama administration appointed Richard Holbrooke as the Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, New Delhi sent an unequivocal message to the United States that any move to include India in his brief would be “unacceptable.”

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee registered India's strong disapproval of President-elect Barack Obama's plan to appoint a special envoy for the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan region.

During a meeting with U.S. Ambassador David Mulford on January 9, 2009, Mr. Mukherjee is reported to have said the move “smacks of interference and would be unacceptable [to India].”

The meeting took place two weeks before Mr. Holbrooke's appointment. India was conspicuously absent from his designation, suggesting that New Delhi had — as speculated in some quarters — successfully lobbied the Obama administration in ensuring that neither India nor Kashmir were included in Mr. Holbrooke's official brief.

A cable (186057: secret) dated January 7, 2009 sent by Mr. Mulford to Washington shows the speculation was not far off the mark.

“Mukherjee was deeply concerned about any move toward an envoy with a broad regional mandate that could be interpreted to include Kashmir.

“Such a broad mandate would be viewed by India as risky and unpredictable, exposing issues of vital concern to India to the discretion of the individual appointed.”

Mr. Holbrooke passed away in December 2010 and was succeeded by Marc Grossman.

Mr. Mukherjee's keenness that the U.S.-India relationship should not be viewed primarily through the lens of the crisis in the region was also reflected in his remark that “India was content that Vice President-elect [Joe] Biden [did] not extend his trip beyond Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

He, however, added that India would look forward to welcoming him one day to “showcase the breadth of the bilateral relationship.”

During the meeting, Mr. Mulford drew attention to the lack of an agreement on End Use Monitoring (EUM) between India and the U.S., saying he did not see why it was so difficult for the former to conclude an acceptable agreement. As it turned out, an EUM agreement — under which restrictions on use and mechanisms for monitoring may be applied to defence and other items using cutting edge technologies sold to India — was finalised in mid-2009, or within a few months of the meeting.

Another cable (185384: confidential) dated December 31, 2008 sent by Mr. Mulford to Washington records that India's Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon had expressed the country's “extreme sensitivity” on the issue of a U.S. special envoy with “a mandate to address the dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.”

Mr. Shivshankar Menon is said to have conveyed this in a meeting with U.S. Under Secretary Bill Burns. The cable cites Mr. Menon as telling him that India is concerned about the possibility of a narrow deal in which the U.S. would tell Pakistan the Mumbai terrorist attacks will not “stick on you” as long as “you keep fighting in the West [against militants in the western region of Pakistan].”

India needed to work to “update perceptions,” the Foreign Secretary said, “because the concept of such a deal could have originated only from those with out-dated views of the reality in Kashmir.”

The cable reports Mr. Menon telling the U.S. official that “a special envoy would be deeply unpopular and could negatively affect the gains in [the U.S.-India] bilateral relationship. Menon observed that ‘we have not heard a peep' from critics of a close relationship with the U.S. about co-operation with the FBI following the Mumbai attacks, but added, ‘Kashmir is different; we do not want to feed the notion that the U.S. is messing about in Kashmir, especially in the lead-up to national elections.”

The Pakistan Cables are being shared by The Hindu with NDTV in India and Dawn in Pakistan.

The photo caption has been edited for clarity.

Wiky leaf chief said that China intruded into CBI documents. This paper which supported Jukien and even Ram interviewed him, did not publish about China double game, At lease Ram and Co. learn about China now. never.

from:  sriram
Posted on: Dec 4, 2011 at 18:24 IST

The Kashmir in India got a special status of state. Indian and our politicians seek no one to interfer and disturb. india has already faced the numbers of problems towards Pak. No one should be interfer whether it self United States.

from:  Er. Sandeep Kooner
Posted on: Nov 17, 2011 at 17:15 IST

Tip top stuff. I'll expect more now.

from:  Andi
Posted on: Oct 31, 2011 at 19:08 IST

We should send a strong message to the US that no interference will be tolerated in our affairs-either domestic or foreign. We are an independent nation having our own views on world affairs. We dream of a world without divisions and discords and a new world order not dominated by the rich and powerful countries of the West.

from:  Umesh Bhagwat
Posted on: Oct 18, 2011 at 11:02 IST

India should act from its strength -- in which case, not worry with trivialities like this, or submit wholeheartedly (the politicians are used to prostrating ;). This arrogant and 'hard to get' attitude is just hurting India's interest. Unlike US, India cannot pull out from the region.

from:  Sahdev Sharma
Posted on: Jul 16, 2011 at 13:30 IST

India and Pakistan started with sham and roller coaster democracies from Day-1. Enough is enough. Fault might be fixed by suo notu action of apex court to enforce playing rules of Parliament democracy. Everything will fall into place. Kashmir gets its special status and would embark at once with rejuvenating its economy through trade and commerce using windows of both neighbours. India would immediately resume full-fledged trade with Pakistan and look forward to becoming a major player in the tapping of the hidden treasures of central Asia. Afghanistan's destiny lies in being a conduit for transit of trade linked both with central Asia and Pakistan's transshipment hubs. All types of militancy and the so-called Lashkars would disappear. Economic integration of SAARC and central Asia's ECO would be put in gear. All parties would remain in constitutional limits and a new dawn will break with a new hope for a better tomorrow. India's 'sensitivities' about Kashmir has cost it dear in trillions lost in obstruction of trade and unstoppable corruption at home. In 64 years both India and Pakistan find no mainstream political parties with national representations. With rule-based democracies all future mutual bilateral meetings would become meaningful and agreements guaranteed by independent judiciaries of both sides. It beckons India to seize the moment and stand tall with China.

from:  Sher Mohammad
Posted on: May 25, 2011 at 03:24 IST

Friendship, healthy one at least, cannot be between unequal partners. If India worries about what US 'says' this much, leave alone what US does, then where is the equality in that relationship? Well, I guess that's the reality.

India should act from its strength -- in which case, not worry with trivialities like this, or submit wholeheartedly (the politicians are used to prostrating ;). This arrogant and 'hard to get' attitude is just hurting India's interest. Unlike US, India cannot pull out from the region. :)

from:  Prasad
Posted on: May 22, 2011 at 02:26 IST

I think President Obama is wise enough, not to encourage Pakistan's attitude towards India, India is facing problems since long, the USA and the world is facing at present.

from:  Ranjitrai Desai
Posted on: May 21, 2011 at 19:10 IST

Indian leaders are having Mohandas Gandhi's picture in their offices but commit corruption, mockery, political violence and collaborated with the Rajapakse regime in committing crimes against humanity. Shame on the Indian leaders and the West slowly coming to know the Indian mentality through the Tamil Diaspora.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: May 21, 2011 at 17:54 IST
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