Musharraf agreed in 2000 to low-key UN resolutions on Kashmir: US cable

Source: Published in Current Affairs on Friday, September 04, 2015

WASHINGTON: A US State Department cable declassified this week shows that in May 2000 the Musharraf government was willing to “low-key” UN resolutions on Kashmir to improve relations with India.

A passage about this is included in a secret cable the US Embassy in Pakistan sent to Washington after a two-hour long, one-to-one meeting between then Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering in Islamabad on May 27, 2000.

“Sattar is beginning to think ahead on Kashmir and understands the immediate need to reduce violence along the LOC and inside Kashmir, down the road,” says the cable.

“He (Mr Sattar) noted that Pakistan would deliberately low-key the UN resolutions of the 1940s, as emphasising them would not be helpful,” the cable adds.

Another cable, sent on May 29, includes details of Mr Pickering’s meeting with then Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf who told the US official that “Pakistan supported a case, de-escalation of the violence in Kashmir and a return to dialogue.”

Mr Musharraf promised to “do what he could to deescalate the violence”.

Running into several pages, the cables — released under Freedom of Information Act — shows that the US policy on Kashmir has not changed since 2000, i.e. it is an issue India and Pakistan need to resolve bilaterally.

Mr Pickering told Gen Musharraf that there were five serious issues in US-Pakistan relations: Kashmir, Afghanistan, non-proliferation, democracy and economics.

He said he intended to focus on the first three Mr Pickering warned that “Kashmir, in particular, was the issue most likely to produce a catastrophe in the near term.

As long as the line of control was out of control, the situation was a danger to the entire region.”

Mr Pickering said he wanted to stress once again the point then US President Clinton had made during his visit.

“There was no military solution to the Kashmir problem.

The only way to move the issue towards resolution was through dialogue.”

The US official informed Gen Musharraf that the Indians had already taken a first step in this direction by releasing a number of imprisoned all parties Hurriyat conference leaders and offering to hold talks with them.

“While we understood that the offer for talks placed Pakistan at a tactical disadvantage, in that Islamabad would not be included, it presented a strategic opportunity if the government of Pakistan chose to seize it. If Pakistan was prepared to take reciprocal steps, by reducing firing along the line of control or decreasing jihadist infiltration into Kashmir, the US would be in a position to press India for a return to dialogue.”

The cable on the Sattar-Pickering meeting says that Mr Sattar reacted positively to the idea of involving Kashmiris in the dialogue.

“He said he had personally convinced the government to go along with Hurriyat leaders talking to the Indians without a Pakistani presence,” the cable said.

“Sattar said that consulting Kashmiris does not eliminate Pakistan’s interest in the settlement and reacted with interest to the idea that a settlement needed to be developed in a way to bring Pakistan and India closer together through more open trade and economic relations,” the cable said.

In the cable, Sattar says that the Kashmiri leaders themselves said in 1991 that the first step would be to emphasise their participation and they could postpone final status of territorial questions for a later time.

“He (Sattar) thought that focusing on people, their self-government, etc., first would make more sense and territorial issues could be left until later,” the cable said.

In another meeting with Maleeha Lodhi, then ambassador in Washington, Mr Pickering said that Pakistan’s policy of using non-state actors was threatening US interest.

The meeting was in the immediate aftermath of the hijacking of Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar.

Mr Pickering warned that “hijacking constitutes an extreme violation of US law and should be treated as such”.

He told Ms Lodhi that Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir “have not been adept and will not gain Pakistan the support” of the international community.

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