India needs to "decrease footprint in Afghanistan" to gain Pak's trust: Gilani to Kerry

Islamabad, Dec 2 (ANI): India needs to "decrease its footprint in Afghanistan and stop interfering in Balochistan" in order to gain Pakistan's trust, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani told US Senator John Kerry during a meeting earlier this year, according to a leaked US embassy cable posted by WikiLeaks.

"During a February 16 meeting with Senator John Kerry, Prime Minister Gilani spoke at length about the state of the Indo-Pakistani relationship. Gilani indicated that the GOP was willing to resume talks with the Indian government, and pointed to the upcoming meetings between India and Pakistan's Foreign Secretaries as evidence of such," said a cable, which was classified as "confidential".

Gilani further said that Pakistan and India had also resumed back channel discussions, and that "improving bilateral relations with India was in Pakistan's best interest as it would enable the GOP to focus all of its attention on securing its western border."

"Gilani, however, noted that in order to gain public support for this process, the U.S. had to treat India and Pakistan equally. He added that India would need to gain Pakistan's trust and indicated that reducing the Indian footprint in Afghanistan and halting Indian support of militants in Balochistan would be steps in the right direction," revealed the cable.

Kerry told Gilani that the upcoming meeting between the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Secretaries had "enormous potential", and urged the Pakistan government "not to allow pressure from the local media and the masses to derail these efforts."

"Kerry argued that dialogue with India was an opportunity to create new security arrangements that could change the regional dynamic. While assuring Gilani that the effort would not be U.S.-driven, Kerry indicated that the USG was open to the idea of serving as a mediator to help facilitate the resumption of the Pakistan-India Composite Dialogue," the leaked cable said.

The senator pointed out out that following the recent bombing in Pune, India was "focused on counterterrorism", and suggested that the Pakistan government present the Indian government with its plan to tackle terrorism.

"He (Kerry) said that this would be a clear 'confidence builder' that would make India more willing to move forward in talks about Kashmir and water disputes," said the cable.

He also suggested that Pakistan and India sign a non-aggression pact, and added that "the US and other countries of goodwill would be prepared to help in any way possible".

"Gilani agreed to present Kerry's proposal to the the GOP leadership. He was amenable to the idea of a rapprochement in the India-Pakistan relation, but expressed concern that the public would not support the idea," according to the leaked document.

"Kerry said that in order to gain public support for this initiative, the GOP needed to clearly outline the long-term economic benefits of improved bilateral relations, such as improvements in social development and increased investments and trade, to the Pakistani people," the document added. (ANI)

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