The Mumbai terror attacks, which were carried out by the Pakistan-based LeT terror outfit, closed the door for any Indo-Pak discussions on Kashmir, according to a top American diplomat.
The remarks by the then American ambassador to Islamabad Anne Patterson were part of a cable dated February 4, 2009, which she wrote for US special envoy for Af-Pak region Richard Holbrook ahead of his maiden trip to Pakistan in his new capacity, following which he also visited India and Afghanistan, showed the classified US documents released by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
“Although the conventional wisdom says that Mumbai closed the door on Kashmir discussions, there is no doubt that Pakistan believes tackling the Kashmir issue remains the key to regional security,” Patterson wrote in the cable.
Noting that Indo-Pakistan relations were still simmering, Patterson, according to the leaked cable, said that in the wake of Mumbai attacks and accelerating militant control of Pakistani territory, the military/ISI faced the need to re-evaluate its historic use of proxy tribes/militant groups as foreign policy tools.
Patterson said that to avoid a potential Indian military strike, Pakistan needed to show progress on prosecuting those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.
“Interior Minister (Rehman) Malik will outline to you his plan to prosecute Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa (LeT/JUD) suspects now in custody. The key will be whether the military/ISI is ready to turn the Mumbai suspects over to civilian law enforcement, and whether India considers Pakistani actions adequate,” the ambassador said.
“(Army chief Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani, in particular, wants to avoid a reckoning with his past leadership of ISI. Despite arrests of key LeT/JUD leaders and closure of some of their camps, it is unclear if ISI has finally abandoned its policy of using these proxy forces as a foreign policy tool; we need to continue pressing them to realise this strategy has become counter-productive in Kashmir, Afghanistan and FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas),” the cable said.
Patterson told Holbrook that the Pakistani Foreign Ministry quashed the National Assembly debate of a resolution signed by leaders of most of the political parties urging the US to appoint a special envoy on Kashmir, or add that portfolio to your plate.
“However, privately, (President Asif Ali) Zardari and FM (Shah Mahmood) Qureshi have indicated they would welcome your engagement on Kashmir,” Patterson wrote in the cable to Holbrooke.