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US cables on India

india Updated: Dec 18, 2010 18:38 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Wikileaks of cables sent by the US Embassy to Washington may not radically alter our understanding of the US-India relations, but they do give insights into the US thinking on some crucial issues and times. Some excerpts.

12 February 2009 -Ambassador David Mulford's note

'THIRD FRONT' WORST SCENARIO
"While both the BJP and the Congress support a closer US-India relationship, their ability to move forward aggressively will be constrained by the disproportionate power of smaller parties, which have narrower agendas that frequently do not extend to foreign policy issues. The worst scenario for the US-India relationship would be one in which a "Third Front" forms a government that excludes both the Congress Party and the BJP. Under those circumstances, the Communist parties will likely wield great influence in a coalition. Nevertheless, the nuclear deal and a closer strategic relationship with the United States have generated an extraordinary public debate in India during the last year. We have won this debate hands down and, as a result, the US-India relationship has a strong foundation on which to grow over the coming decades."

KASHMIR: INDIAN GESTURES INADEQUATE

"The GOI believes that the political and security environment today in Kashmir is such that the state could be poised for a sustained period of reconciliation and prosperity. The Indians are particularly elated with the recent violence-free and high-turnout state legislative election they pulled off in Jammu and Kashmir. They believe Kashmiris have rejected the agendas of the Pakistani jihadis and Kashmiri separatists, and are now ready to turn the page away from violence and are seeking good governance and normalization. With Omar Abdullah as Chief Minister, they have in place a young, forward thinking leader who could move the state out of its two decades of political paralysis. It is not clear, however, that the GOI has the political will to make the kinds of gestures -- such as reducing the security forces footprint -- that Kashmiris need to gain some confidence in the Indian intentions."

NUKE DEAL BENEFITS FOR US

"Successful implementation of the Agreement will provide access to an estimated $150 billion in commercial opportunities for US firms and lead to the creation of up to 30,000 American jobs over the next three decades."

2 November 2004 - US cable on meeting with MEA joint secretary Mitra Vashishta on Myanmar

Aung's "time has come and gone"
The decision to encourage democracy in Rangoon reflects the GOI belief that India is best placed to help Burma reform, that Aung San Suu Kyi's "time has come and gone," and that democracy will take root in Burma only through greater engagement and people-to-people ties.

March 4, 2009 - On a meeting between NSA Narayanan and FBI director Robert Mueller

"Hindu extremists use violence."

He (Narayanan) then described a changing trend in terrorists being recruited to jihad, saying that while in the past Kashmiri terrorist recruits were vulnerable because they were economically disadvantaged, any of today's terrorists were professionals who came from well-to-do backgrounds. India, with its vast Muslim community living side-by-side with Hindus, was having difficulty identifying the sources of radicalization, he explained, adding that even Muslim leaders …were confessing they were "losing control of their flock." India is also seeing the beginnings of Hindu extremist groups that use violence, he said, agreeing with the Director's point that terrorists come from more than just Muslim backgrounds.

He urged Director Mueller to keep the pressure on Pakistan to prosecute terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure, saying "if you want to end malaria you have to get rid of the swamp."

'NO JOINT INVESTIGATIONS'

In response to the Director's suggestion that perhaps India and Pakistan could send investigators to Washington to work together, rather than in India, Narayanan said he could consider it, "but at this point both sides are so suspicious of each other that to say India and Pakistan could have an honest joint investigation is difficult." Narayanan acknowledged that India's upcoming general elections -- and more specifically, the politics surrounding them -- would affect the government's ability to cooperate with Pakistan, and said it would be "unpalatable" for the government to agree to a joint investigation at this time.

2007, May 4 - On senior diplomat K V Rajan's meeting with a US diplomat

'UPA appeasing Muslims, Left'
"UPA government is eager to appease Muslims and Left front supporters….
We see evidence that Iran has been buying off journalists, clerics and editors in Shia-populated areas of Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir, doling out large sums to stoke anti-Americanism. Now, it seems Iran is focusing squarely on influential elite audiences in Delhi, with a view to shaping the debate of India's IAEA policy and the nuclear deal"

11 February 2010 - Background paper for John Kerry's visit to India

'MUKHERJI NOT SUPPORTIVE ON PAK INTITIATIVE'

PM Singh is taking a calculated political risk in pushing forward with an offer of talks with Pakistan. While there is a general recognition that the policy of not engaging with Pakistan except on counter-terrorism issues has exhausted its usefulness, that does not necessarily translate into strong or consistent support for broad talks with Pakistan among the political class, given continuing terrorist threats. There are heavyweights in the Congress, including Finance Minister Mukherjee, who were not supportive after last year's Sharm al Sheikh Joint Statement fiasco, and they will seize on any missteps to argue against a policy that reaches out to the Pakistanis. This is also likely to be the last time for some time that PM Singh will have sufficient support to reach out to re-engage on dialogue. The PM took a beating after Sharm al Sheikh and his government's post-election honeymoon came to a crashing halt. If this renewed effort falters because of lack of interest on the part of the Pakistanis, many could point to newly appointed NSA Shiv Shankar Menon as the scapegoat. Menon was lambasted for his role as Foreign Secretary at Sharm and will equally be identified with this proposal.

May 24, 2006 - on a meeting between MEA Additional Secretary K C Singh with US Diplomats

"JIHADIS LOOKING FOR BIOTECH PHDs"

"Singh asserted that Pakistan's ISI retains connections to al-Qa'ida and has been privy to Usama bin Ladin's communications. To the DCM's question of information on operational links, Joint Secretary (Cabinet Secretariat, i.e. RAW) Sharad Kumar stated that Indian intelligence has transcripts of pre-9/11 meetings between UBL and Mullah Omar during which terrorism in J&K was discussed. He continued that UBL had been "willing to divert $20 million" from Central Asian programming to support Kashmir-oriented.

Turning to the subject of counter-bio-terrorism cooperation, Singh reported that Indian intelligence is picking up chatter indicating jihadi groups are interested in bio-terrorism, for example seeking out like-minded PhD's in biology and bio-technology. He compared the prospects for nuclear terrorism ("still in the realm of the imaginary") to bio-terrorism ("an ideal weapon for terrorism ... anthrax could pose a serious problem ...it is no longer an academic exercise for us.")

8 June 2006 ----NOTE ON INDIAN PREPAREDNESS TO BIOTERROR

'BIOTERRORISM EASY, RESPONSE WILL BE WEAK'

Advances in the biotech sector and shifting terrorist tactics that focus on disrupting India's social cohesion and economic prosperity oblige the GOI to look at the possibility of terror groups using biological agents as weapons of mass destruction and economic and social disruption. The plethora of indigenous highly pathogenic and virulent agents naturally occurring in India and the large Indian industrial base -- combined with weak controls -- also make India as much a source of bio-terrorism material as a target. In addition, India's notably weak public health and agricultural infrastructure coupled with high population density means that a deliberate release of a disease-causing agent could go undetected for quite a while before authorities become aware. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, India is particularly vulnerable to agriculture attacks. Moreover, lack of communication, coordination, and cooperation among key stakeholders from different sectors will continue to remain a major impediment to the GOI's capacity to respond to a bio-terrorism attack.

XXXXXXXXXXXX told Poloff the difficulty of manufacturing biological weapons is offset in India by the relative ease of procuring biological materials such as harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins that either exist naturally or are cultured in academic labs that maintain loose supervision. "It would be unlikely that a bio-agent is brought in by terrorists from outside the country if it can be easily obtained within India itself," added XXXXXXXXXXXX; "Getting into a facility to obtain lethal bio-agents is not very difficult here." (COMMENT: Biological agents do not require sophisticated weaponization for dispersal. Food and water supplies can be tainted or a "typhoid Mary" scenario could be employed.)

2 December 2005 - note on recruitment in Islamist extremist organisations

'NO EVIDENCE LINKING INDIAN MADRASSAS'

Our contacts tell us, however, that most Muslim students lose interest in such groups as they become more comfortable in their new environments. The Indian media has published colorful stories implying that Madrassas are recruiting centers for Islamic terrorism and that many are funded by Pakistan's ISI. The accounts are mostly anecdotal, however, and there has been little or no hard evidence linking Indian Madrassas to terrorist recruitment. Madrassas originally started at the secondary level and were confined to boys, with most Muslim children attending public primary schools in their own villages. The Deobandi sect is establishing a series of primary schools for North Indian boys and girls. Their goal is to provide madrassa education for children from age five through university level. There is some concern that this move could isolate children from the mainstream and make them more prone to extremism or susceptible to recruitment into terrorist groups.

7 February 2007 - NOTE ON COUNTER TERRORISM COOPERATION

"INDIA REBUFFS OUR OFFERS"

Counter terrorism joint working group-backgrounder
India's lingering zero-sum suspicion of US policies towards Pakistan, its fiercely independent foreign policy stance, its traditional go-it-alone strategy toward its security, and its domestic political sensitivities over the sentiments of its large Muslim population, have all contributed to India's caution in working with us on a joint counter-terrorism strategy. While India has been very keen to receive information and technology from us to further its counter-terrorism efforts, India provides little in return, despite our belief that the country should be an equal partner in this relationship. India frequently rebuffs our offers of support for their police investigations of terrorist attacks, and our offers of training and support are often met with a stalled logistical pace. For example, our Legatt offered forensic and investigative support to India in the wake of the Samjauta Train bombings, but India refused.