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Cablegate: Indo-Pak Country Teams Discuss How to Encourage

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/16/2015

Classified By: Charge Robert Blake, Jr. for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)

1. (C) Summary: Taking advantage of Ambassador Crocker's
trip to India, New Delhi and Islamabad country teams on
October 4 convened a round table discussion on Indo-Pak
relations. Both sides agreed that, although there are few
feasible avenues for direct USG involvement in this sphere --
and that direct US involvement risks poisoning the process --
there are constructive avenues we can pursue to keep the two
sides moving in the right direction. In addition to
Ambassador Crocker and DCM Blake, the POL, ECON, PA, DAO, and
ORA sections of each Embassy participated in this exchange.
End Summary.

Opening Trade a Potential Boost to Improving Relations
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (C) All agreed that growing economic ties between India
and Pakistan would improve overall relations. India's larger
and growing economy -- and the South Asia Free Trade
Agreement, due to take off next year -- could help fuel
growth throughout much of South Asia, but some businesspeople
in Pakistan fear they would be displaced by bigger Indian
firms. Promoting cross-border investment would enlarge the
already growing peace constituencies in both countries.

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3. (C) Businesspeople in both countries complain that the
visa regimes -- which, among other restrictions, limit the
number of cities a traveler can visit -- are the most
significant hurdles to overcome; other key obstacles include
limited travel and transport routes and restrictive shipping
policies. Many of these items are already on the New
Delhi-Islamabad agenda under the auspices of the recently
inaugurated Joint Commission. To help accelerate trade and
investment liberalization, the US-India and US-Pakistan
Chambers of Commerce could consider coordinating their
messages to New Delhi and Islamabad; business nationals could
flex their leverage more effectively in this arena than any
outsider. One drag on using trade to foster goodwill,
however is the pervasive GOP concern that too much progress
on trade ties risks sidelining the Kashmir issue.

Energy Cooperation: Most Prospects Have High Negatives
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (C) The Indian and Pakistani economies face tough
challenges in securing increased domestic and imported energy
supplies to sustain their rapid rates of economic growth.
India has greater energy concerns, but Pakistan has fewer
options to address their own declining resources. The
TAP/TAPI proposal for a natural gas pipeline from
Turkmenistan via Afghanistan is stymied by Ashgabat's
inability to authenticate sufficient gas reserves needed for
production levels above its export commitments to Russia and
Ukraine -- a concern that the Asian Development Bank shared
with Embassy Islamabad. Proposed gas pipelines from
Bangladesh or Burma only meet some of India's growing demand,
and probably would not traverse the country to supply
Pakistan as well. There is commercially-feasible potential
for connecting the Indian and Pakistani electrical grids in
Punjab. Prospects for Pakistani investment in, or purchases
from, Indian hydro-electric projects in Jammu and Kashmir
still face bilateral political hurdles.

5. (C) Another area for bilateral energy cooperation -- the
proposed Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline now under
negotiation -- faces questions of financial and commercial
viability and both the GOI and GOP are concerned about
running afoul of US ILSA sanctions. (NOTE: Each country team
has heard the joke from its national contacts that New Delhi
and Islamabad should consider a joint demarche to Washington
on ILSA. End Note.) One promising avenue for cooperation
would be to expand the growing US-India Energy Dialogue to
include regional initiatives.

Greater Transparency Can Increase Confidence

6. (S) US officials have been unable so far to share some
information with GOI/GOP interlocutors that could improve
transparency and increase confidence between the two
countries, due to regulations that govern intelligence
sharing (i.e. the "friends on friends" policy). For example,
Indian confidence would increase if we could confirm to New
Delhi actions Musharraf takes to check cross-border
terrorism. Similarly, especially in crisis situations prone
to mutual misperception and conflicting signaling, our
ability to reassure Islamabad that New Delhi does not plan to
escalate could help restrain Musharraf from deciding to
preempt. We understand this is a complex topic with numerous
equities at stake, but addressing this issue during a period
of positive bilateral relations has the potential to reap
exponential benefits in crisis prevention and crisis
management at a later date.

Balancing (But Not Hyphenating) Perceptions on F-16s
--------------------------------------------- -------

7. (C) Recent Pakistani public statements on upcoming F-16
transfers have drawn little attention in India, but that may
change as the details on the transfer firm up and are
publicized. Ambassador Crocker noted that, contrary to Indian
pundits who describe the F-16 as a purely nuclear platform,
it has been employed by the Pakistani military to a limited
degree in counter-terrorism operations, including in
Waziristan this month and in Shkai in 2004. It may allay
some Indian concerns to describe the transfer as giving
Pakistan a non-nuclear option rather than allow them to
define it as a nuclear delivery system.

8. (C) The Islamabad Country Team underlined the "mythic
proportions" the F-16 has in the minds of many Pakistanis,
which outstrip the platform's strategic value. To withhold
the F-16s, they judge, would harden the Pakistan Army against
the US and the peace process: "It would be back to the
bunkers." Objectively, however, many Indian strategic
analysts have acknowledged that the F-16 package would not
tip the scales in Islamabad's favor.

Political Trends: Auspicious Timing for Progress
--------------------------------------------- ---

9. (C) The assessment of Islamabad Country Team was that the
best time for progress in Indo-Pak relations is between the
present and the run-up to Pakistan's 2007 elections, when
Musharraf as Army Chief can best sell the military on
whatever deals emerge out of his dialogue with PM Singh.
Similarly, New Delhi PolCouns noted that, in India, peace is
currently a bigger vote-getter than anti-Pak demagoguery.

10. (C) The problem, however, is that the two governments
have yet to agree on what form "progress" will take. Working
under the boundaries of PM Singh's assertion that the borders
in Kashmir cannot be redrawn and Musharraf's declaration that
the LoC cannot be the solution, a number of plausible options
emerged from discussion: limited autonomy, softening of the
LoC to permit greater intra-Kashmir travel and trade, and a
pan-Kashmir body that would exercise limited jurisdiction
over the whole of (Pakistani and Indian) Kashmir are all
constructs that would appear to be within the stated

11. (C) PM Singh needs good behavior from Musharraf,
especially against cross-border terrorism, so he can sell
this kind of out-of-the-box thinking to the Army, his
coalition partners, and the country (i.e. the electorate);
India also needs to know that the USG is not giving Musharraf
a free ride on terrorism, or the GOI will be more inclined to
take matters into their own hands, with potentially
disastrous results. Musharraf needs to show some degree of
progress on Kashmir and that the Pakistan Army's Kashmir
policy was not an abject failure. These are not mutually
exclusive requirements, although they can be difficult to
finesse. Until a mutually agreeable end-game emerges, the
best route is for both sides to keep moving the ball up the

Countering Mutual Misperceptions

12. (C) Most Indians and Pakistanis will say that they
understand the people on the other side of the border, "After
all, we are all from the same family." This fallacy makes
countering mutual misperceptions all the more difficult -- it
would be more accurate to describe the Indian and Pakistani
people as being from a family that suffered a painful divorce
50 years ago, where many of the grandchildren only have a
one-sided idea of what happened and why. A staggering
statistic PAO New Delhi offered was that out of less than
8,000 foreign students in all of India, there are 750
Americans, and only one Pakistani. A number of USG and NGO
programs bring together students and professionals from both
sides of the border, but even these have to work against very
large populations and the momentum of 50 years of distrust
and ignorance, which has been reinforced over the years by
books, films, and public discourse.

13. (C) End-of-session brainstorming produced several ideas
deemed worth exploring:

-- Joint programs on how regional trade can be mutually
beneficial, targeted to audiences other than the business

-- Assistance -- where politically acceptable -- on reforming
textbooks that include intolerant and inflammatory language

-- A program on how the media can help restrain and counter
incitement during a crisis

-- Facilitating exchanges and VCDs between private schools
like Pakistan's Beacon House School and the Delhi Public
Schools (COMMENT: These private schools are owned and run by
elites who are well known Embassy contacts, and would be
easier to facilitate than working through state-owned
schools. End Comment.)

What We Do (or Don't) is Less Important Than How We Do It
--------------------------------------------- ------------
14. (C) There are few areas where the USG can directly
improve Indo-Pak relations during a non-crisis period, but
there are many fruitful, indirect approaches that can help
build confidence between the two countries without our taking
a leadership role in their affairs. There was general
agreement between the two Country Teams, furthermore, that
attempting to insert the USG directly into the process risks
poisoning even the best ideas -- our most constructive
location is on the margins offering support, not in the
middle brokering deals.

15. (U) Ambassador Crocker has cleared this message.

16. (U) Visit New Delhi's Classified Website:

© Scoop Media

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