NEW Delhi: President Asif Ali Zardari told US Senator John Kerry last year that he believed the Indian government was involved in the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, according to WikiLeaks cables partly published by The Hindu on Monday. In her cable to Washington, US Ambassador Anne Patterson spoke of Mr Zardari’s trust in Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She said he did not hold the same view of others in the Indian government.
“Zardari agreed dialogue is the only way forward. However, he justified continued suspicion of India, citing recent ‘confirmation’ that there was Indian involvement in the Mumbai attacks,” a part of the original cable not published by The Hindu said, quoting Ms Patterson’s privileged communication about the president’s talks with Mr Kerry and his delegation.
Mr Zardari “claimed India had increased its military spending 30 per cent this year and described this as a direct threat to Pakistan. When Kerry pointed out the Chinese threat to India, Zardari responded that Indian tanks cannot operate in the Chinese border region and could only be intended for an attack on Pakistan. India has 4,700 tanks, he explained, while Pakistan has only 2,600. Capability creates a fear,” he added.
Ms Patterson said Mr Kerry opened his February 16 talks with the president by referring to the Senator’s recent talks with Dr Singh and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
“Kerry said Singh was “very open” to negotiation with Pakistan, starting with the upcoming discussions between Pakistan and India’s Foreign Secretaries. Kerry said that cooperation on counter-terrorism with the Indians could lead to Indian compromises on key Pakistani issues such as Kashmir and water use in subsequent meetings. Kerry encouraged the GOP to come up with specific offers to which the GOI could respond.”
The disclosure of the secret cable, which was obviously never intended for Indian or Pakistani audience, suggests that Mr Zardari and the Pakistani establishment truly believe in Indian complicity in the terror attack and that it was not meant to score propaganda points over New Delhi.
Ms Patterson’s dispatch was published barely a week before Indian and Pakistani home secretaries meet for talks in New Delhi that are being clearly encouraged by Washington.
The US ambassador further wrote: “Kerry said Zardari should put his concerns on the negotiating table as there was a real opportunity for productive conversation between India and Pakistan now: You could arrive at a surprising consensus of mutual understanding. Zardari conceded that Singh deserved respect, but said he was not confident about the rest of the Indian government.”