ID: 83679    10/31/2006 10:15    06ISLAMABAD21224    Embassy Islamabad    SECRET//NOFORN        "VZCZCXRO5018 PP RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHPW DE RUEHIL #1224/01 3041015 ZNY SSSSS ZZH P 311015Z OCT 06 FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4001 INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ALMATY PRIORITY 9659 RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT PRIORITY 1353 RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK PRIORITY 3832 RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 0979 RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 1716 RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE PRIORITY RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 6416 RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 9576 RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT PRIORITY 2043 RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 3200 RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 0436 RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 8602 RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY"    "S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 021224

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/31/2016 TAGS: IN, PK, PREL, PTER SUBJECT: MFA PREVIEWS EXPECTATIONS FOR COMPOSITE DIALOGUE

Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, Reasons 1.4  (b) and (d)

1.  (C)  Summary:  According to an MFA source, Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri's comments during an Indian television interview that he expected a breakthrough on the Siachen Glacier dispute during upcoming Composite Dialogue meeting were simply intended to generate positive public atmosphere in advance of the talks.  Pointing to strong Indian constituencies opposed to a Siachen resolution, the MFA has greater hopes for progress on Sir Creek, peace and security issues and the mechanism for counter-terrorism cooperation discussed by President Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Havana, as well as a handful of other lesser deliverables.  Jilani confirmed that FM Kasuri hopes to call on his MEA counterpart during a personal visit to India scheduled for late November.  End summary.

2.  (C)  In an October 30 conversation, PolCouns asked MFA Director General (India) Jalil Jilani about headlines in that morning's papers that FM Kasuri expected a breakthrough on the Siachen Glacier dispute at the November 14-15 Composite Dialogue meetings.  Jilani explained that the remarks, made during an interview with an Indian television outlet, were intended only to generate a positive buzz in the run-up to the talks.  In contrast, Jilani said that he had absolutely no hope of a Siachen solution in the near term, even though Islamabad and New Delhi have already sketched the outlines of a deal.  Jilani pointed to strong opposition to a Siachen resolution amongst the Indian military and defense establishment as the barrier to a resolution, a hurdle that PM Manmohan Singh had raised in his Havana meeting with President Musharraf in mid-September.  Singh had told Musharraf that his military advisors are apprehensive that Pakistan would re-occupy the heights -- including Indian posts -- were the sides to withdraw from their current lines. Musharraf offered his personal assurance that Pakistan would honor a withdrawal agreement, saying  that it would be foolish to withdraw only to return, particularly as moving forward to the Indian posts would leave Pakistani units with a mountain at their backs, cut off from their supply lines. Citing a recent book by retired Indian General V.P. Malik -- like Musharraf, a veteran of the Kargil crisis -- Jilani said that Musharraf's guarantees would not carry any weight for Singh; the PM would have to have the Indian Army with him to cut a deal.

3.  (C)  Jilani was more optimistic on other topics on the Composite Dialogue agenda, calling resolution of the Sir Creek dispute “doable,” as it lacks the strategic importance of Siachen; also, both sides are under pressure to resolve the issue before the 2009 deadline of the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas.  An interagency session later in the day would review new proposals the GOP could take to New Delhi to advance a Sir Creek resolution. He said that he has advised the Indian High Commission that the GOP is ready to sign an agreement on notification of nuclear accidents, a pact that had been passed between capitals several times.  An agreement on the modalities for monthly flag meetings of Army sector commanders, to complement the current quarterly flag meetings of the Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Forces, is also within reach.   Jilani also identified agreements to prevent incidents on the high seas and to speed the return of persons who inadvertently cross the international border as possible deliverables at the Foreign Secretaries' meeting. On the other hand, Jilani described issues relating to Kashmir as within the exclusive confines of the back-channel dialogue between NSA Tariq Aziz and retired Indian diplomat S. K. Lamba.

4.  (C)  Jilani also expects progress on a mechanism for bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation.  He said that the two sides have agreed that the respective Foreign Offices will chair the mechanism, which will include representatives from security and intelligence agencies. Recognizing how uncomfortable the intelligence agencies were at the prospect

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of sitting down with their long-time rivals, Jilani said he used the margins of the Havana meeting to stress to Indian Foreign Secretary-designate Menon that the mechanism should begin its work with items that were workable, in order to build confidence amongst the ISI and RAW representatives.  An Indian request that the GOP investigate Pakistani suspects in the Mumbai bombing who have been captured on intercepts would fall into realm of the possible, in Jilani's estimation; demanding the immediate extradition of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin would not.  Jilani acknowledged that the Indian side might have higher expectations, but maintained that it was critical to build trust between the intelligence agencies for the mechanism to succeed.

5.  (C)  The GOP will also raise several practical matters affecting the efficacy of previously adopted confidence-building measures (CBMs).  For example, Jilani noted the low levels of passengers on the Amritsar - Narakana Sahib bus route, which often transports only 2-3 passengers per run.  The low passenger load led the sides to shelve plans for a train route originally intended to facilitate the travel of Sikh pilgrims to Guru Nana's birthplace shrine. Diplomats from the Pakistani High Commission have investigated why so many Sikh travelers, having been issued Pakistani visas, failed to actually make the pilgrimage; according to Jilani, the Sikhs reported that they had been denied clearance by local police authorities for travel to Pakistan.

6.  (C)  Noting that the Foreign Secretaries will confer on a convenient date for a Ministerial to conclude this round of the Composite Dialogue, Jilani confirmed that FM Kasuri intends to travel to India in late November at the invitation of his Cambridge classmate Mani Shankar Ayer, and that he hoped to combine the visit with a call on India's new External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukerjee.  In the interim, Islamabad will welcome India's new High Commissioner this week, and expects to have its new envoy in place in New Delhi by the end of November.

7.  (C)  Comment:  When asked for the MFA's reaction to Mukerjee's appointment, Jilani paused before offering his assessment of Mukerjee's predecessors, praising Jaswant Singh as an outstanding diplomat and voicing respect for the pragmatism of Yashwant Sinha and political skills of Natwar Singh.  Unfortunately, Jilani concluded, Mukerjee is simply not in the same class.   Jilani also suggested that, during the bilateral meeting in Havana, Indian diplomats appeared almost sheepish about the pause in diplomatic exchanges following the July Mumbai bombings.  Jilani shrugged, explaining that Pakistani officials understood that domestic political considerations necessitated the time-out after the terrorist attack.  When PolCouns noted Emb New Delhi's accounts of widespread Indian belief that Pakistan was behind the plot, Jilani was quick to emphasize that FS Menon had been clear in stating that India had not accused Pakistan of complicity in the bombing, and that even as tough a hard-liner as NSA Narayanan had admitted there was no “clinching” evidence of GOP involvement.   End comment. CROCKER "