India had been deliberately kept out of the Turkey-sponsored meet on Afghanistan earlier this year to address the sensitivities of Pakistan, according to documents released by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
The documents released by WikiLeaks quoted a top Turkish diplomat as telling US officials that India was kept out to address Pakistan’s concerns reflecting its insistence that India be kept out of any meeting on Afghanistan.
Rauf Engin Soysal, Turkey’s former deputy under-secretary for bilateral political affairs responsible for the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, said in a meeting with US under-secretary of state for political affairs William Burns that Turkey had not invited India to the Afghan neighbours summit in deference to Pak sensitivities.
Earlier this year, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari and Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai met in Istanbul to discuss co-operation against extremists in Afghanistan in Turkish-sponsored talks.
“He (Soysal) said Turkey had not invited India to the neighbours summit in deference to Pakistani sensitivities; however, he claimed, Pakistan understands attempting to exclude India from the nascent South Asian regional structures would be a mistake,” says the confidential State Department cable dated February 25, 2010.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon had named Soysal, a former Turkish ambassador to Pakistan from 2007 to 2009 and Turkey’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a special envoy for assistance to Pakistan.
The cable said Soysal had reported that Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh had requested Turkish president Gul’s assistance with Pakistan during the latter’s visit to New Delhi the previous week to which Gul had called Pakistan president Zardari who was skeptical of India’s intentions.
Turkish president Gul is planning to visit Pakistan later this year, the cable said.
“Soysal said Iran is proposing a quadrilateral summit, which would include Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that proposal had yet to generate enthusiasm,” it said.
Soysal said the Pakistani military, though displeased with president Asif Ali Zardari, remains unwilling to intervene; nevertheless, senior officers’ patience may not be infinite.
“Zardari needs to increase the democratic legitimacy of Parliament. Soysal offered. Nawaz Sharif has become a much more constructive player,” said the State Department cable as released by WikiLeaks.
Meanwhile, India’s foreign minister S M Krishna said Indian government was not concerned about WikiLeaks but was yet interested to know about it.
India's government is not really concerned but we certainly are interested in finding out what this WikiLeaks are all about because they (Americans) say that they are going to put on the web four million documents, he told reporters on his return to New Delhi from Sri Lanka.