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How the U.K. saw Kayani as ‘obstacle' to deal on Kashmir

Hasan Suroor
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Britain's Labour Government regarded the Pakistani army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, as a major “obstacle” to an India-Pakistan “deal” on Kashmir, WikiLeaks documents accessed by The Hindu have revealed.

A cable, dated November 28, 2008 ( 180571: confidential/noforn) from the U.S. Embassy in London showed that until a day before the 26/11 Mumbai bombings, the view in the British Foreign Office was that India and Pakistan were close to an agreement on Kashmir with a “text'' ready, but General Kayani was “reluctant.” He was seen as the only “remaining obstacle.”

The view was based on British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's visit to Pakistan on November 25, 2008.

A U.S. diplomat quotes Laura Hickey of the Pakistan Team of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as saying that Mr. Miliband's assessment was that there was a “deal on paper” and both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari were “ready” to sign it.

“Hickey said Miliband concluded during his trip that it was time to get a deal done on Kashmir. Zardari and Singh were ready, and there was a text on paper. Miliband thought the remaining obstacle was Pakistani military chief staff general Kayani; he remained ‘reluctant' and needed to be persuaded,” the cable said.

Ms. Hickey said Mr. Miliband had “resolved to put energy behind an Indian-Pakistan deal on Kashmir.”

“She thought the November 26 Mumbai bombings would likely strengthen his resolve. HMG [Her Majesty's Government] is nervous, however, that over-reaction on either government's part could result in a hardening of positions over military action in Kashmir, once again derailing any progress,” the cable said.


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