Kayani, Zardari not on same page on India


ISLAMABAD: WikiLeaks revealed two different approaches in Pakistan suspecting each other over resumption of talks with India with President Asif Ali Zardari believing that it took a lot to change the mindset in the military establishment and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani thinking that the president was an obstacle in the way to start back channel diplomacy.
One cable written by former US ambassador Anne W Patterson after a meeting between US national security Adviser Gen (r) James Jones and President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad on June 25, 2009, said Zardari had told the top US official that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not understand the constraints under which Zardari was functioning and had no clue of what it took to change the mindset of the establishment.
“Zardari signaled that there had been some progress in his talks with the Indian PM in Russia, even though he had noted earlier that India’s military capacity was ten-fold Pakistan’s,” it said. He regretted not being able to meet Singh at the upcoming Sharm el-Sheikh summit and said, “Unfortunately, Gilani had already announced he would be going to Sharm el-Sheikh,” the cable said.
“Zardari said in his meeting with Singh, he had underscored that ‘there could not be a better political moment’ to improve relations across the board,” it said. In another cable, the former US ambassador wrote that General Kayani told her that his establishment wanted resumption of back channel talks with India, but President Zardari was against it. Kayani told this to her during a two-hour long meeting in October 2009.
During the meeting, Patterson asked Kayani about the likelihood of restarting back-channel talks with India. “Kayani said the ambassador should talk to Zardari about restarting back-channel where it ‘left off’. He was not sure that Zardari was quite willing to wade into these political waters yet,” the cable said.