Kayani an “obstacle” to Indo-Pak deal on Kashmir

A cable reveals India and Pak were close to an agreement on Kashmir in 2008.

Islamabad: Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has been a major “obstacle” to an India-Pakistan deal on Kashmir, as both the neighbours were close to signing a historic agreement on several occasions.

Britain’s Labour Government regarded General Kayani as a major “obstacle” to an Indo-Pak agreement on Kashmir, according to whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.

A cable dated November 28, 2008 from the US embassy in London showed that until a day before the 26/11 Mumbai bombings, the view in the British Foreign Office was that India and Pakistan were close to an agreement on Kashmir with a “text” ready, but General Kayani was “reluctant”. He was seen as the only “remaining obstacle”.

The view was based on then British foreign secretary David Miliband’s visit to Pakistan on November 25, 2008, The News reports.

A US diplomat quotes Laura Hickey of the Pakistan Team of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as saying that Miliband’s assessment was that there was a “deal on paper” and both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari were “ready” to sign it.

“Hickey said Miliband concluded during his trip that it was time to get a deal done on Kashmir. Zardari and Singh were ready, and there was a text on paper. Miliband thought the remaining obstacle was Pakistani military Chief of Staff General Kayani; he remained ‘reluctant’ and needed to be persuaded,” the cable said.

Hickey said Miliband had “resolved to put energy behind an Indian-Pakistan deal on Kashmir.”

Pakistan remained tight-lipped about the deal on Kashmir, as the spokesperson at the Foreign Office said that he had “no clue” about the agreement.

General Kayani had himself made no secret of the fact that Pakistan’s Kashmir policy under his former boss General (retd) Pervez Musharraf would undergo changes as several events had led Pakistan to think afresh.