NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan had through “back channels” agreed to a non-territorial solution to Kashmir under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, reveals a latest WikiLeaks cable. According to the US embassy cable – dated April 21, 2009 – Singh confirmed this to a visiting US delegation, led by then House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman in April, 2009, saying that the solution included free trade and movement across LoC.
Singh told the US delegation that Delhi and Islamabad had made great progress prior to February 2007, when President Musharraf ran into trouble. “We had reached an understanding in back channels,” he related, says the cable, in which Musharraf had agreed to a non-territorial solution to Kashmir. Singh went on to add that India wanted a strong, stable, peaceful, democratic Pakistan and makes no claim on “even an inch” of Pakistani territory.
Singh’s comments authenticate Musharraf’s assertions last year that India and Pakistan had reached that stage, where they were preparing the final draft for the resolution. He had said the two sides shared drafts through “back channels”, and these were in keeping with the four-point template which he had envisaged to resolve the issue. Singh, too, mentions in the cable that the two sides had arrived at the solution through back channels.
Musharraf’s four points included demilitarization, maximum autonomy, making border irrelevant and joint management of the area. Later, however, Pakistani government rejected the formula, saying that it was Musharraf’s personal line of thinking that lacked endorsement either by Pakistani parliament or cabinet. Singh, though, does not make any direct reference to Musharraf’s template in the WikiLeak cable. Musharraf had said, unlike in the case with PM Vajpayee, it was actually with Singh that Pakistan moved towards an agreement over the issue.
Reminding Berman and other US delegates that India had lost more than 150 of its citizens in the Mumbai attacks, Singh said it would be possible to resume dialogue only if Pakistan would “behave as a civilized country and bring the perpetrators to justice”. “Now, Pakistani leaders had to stick by commitments made to PM Vajpayee and repeated to PM Singh in 2005 that they would not permit attacks on India launched from Pakistani soil. If so, huge trade opportunities awaited, according to the Prime Minister, who added that a strong Indian constituency favoured normalized relations,” the cable says.
Recalling the July, 2008, attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, Singh asserted that it had been carried out “with the active encouragement” of Pakistan’s ISI and that he had raised the issue with President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani.