Obama Did Not Offer To Nudge India On Kashmir: Ex-Aide

Obama Did Not Offer To Nudge India On Kashmir: Ex-Aide

22 November 2013
PTI
Lalit K. Jha

Washington DC: President Barack Obama did not offer to nudge India towards negotiations on the Kashmir issue in 2009 in lieu of Pakistan ending support to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Taliban, a former White House official has said. Pakistan's former Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani had recently claimed in his book that Obama had secretly offered Pakistan that he would nudge India towards negotiations on Kashmir in exchange for Islamabad ending its support to terrorist groups. 'It has been a consistent policy of the Obama administration to encourage India and Pakistan to resolve all their issues bilaterally,' said former White House official Anish Goel, reacting to Haqqani's claims, adding that this is the message the U.S. has conveyed to both Pakistan and India. 'It appears that Ambassador Haqqani is reading too much into the letter from President Obama to (Pakistan) President (Asif Ali) Zardari in November 2009,' Goel, who served as senior director for South Asia in the National Security Council in Obama's first term, told PTI. In his book, “Magnificent Delusions,” Haqqani wrote that then U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones traveled to Islamabad to hand deliver a letter written by Obama to Zardari. Dated Nov. 11, 2009, Obama's letter offered Pakistan to become America's 'long-term strategic' partner, Haqqani claimed. Goel, who was then handling India-related issues in particular and South Asia in general, differs with Haqqani's interpretation of the letter. 'The language was carefully crafted to reiterate long-standing U.S. policy that while the United States would not insert itself into bilateral issues in South Asia, it strongly encouraged both sides to come together and resolve their differences on their own,' Goel said. 'To imply that the letter offered anything more than that, particularly as a quid pro quo to Pakistan, is a misreading of the intent and purpose of the letter,' said the former Indian American White House official. 'This has not been our policy,' sources familiar with the letter said, adding that Kashmir was not mentioned in the said letter and there has been no indication of any American mediation between India and Pakistan. “Since the 1950s Pakistan had wanted an American role in South Asia,” Haqqani wrote in the book, which hit the stores Nov. 5. “Now it was being offered one. In the end Pakistan would have to negotiate the Kashmir issue directly with India. But at least now the American president was saying that he would nudge the Indians toward those negotiations,” he said. Obama also wrote of his “vision for South Asia,” which included “new patterns of cooperation between and among India, Afghanistan and Pakistan to counter those who seek to create permanent tension and conflict on the subcontinent,” Haqqani, now a teacher at Boston University, wrote.