PM isolated in govt on Pakistan

New Delhi: Fresh Wikileaks cables have revealed that US Ambassadors here had told the State department that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was "isolated" in his government on talks with Pakistan and that there was a pro-US tilt in Mani Shankar Aiyar`s removal as Petroleum Minister in 2006.

A cable sent by current Ambassador Timothy Roemer in August 2009 after a meeting with the then National Security Adviser (NSA) M K Narayanan says that "on Pakistan, Narayanan readily conceded a differing policy vision with his boss".

Narayanan had noted that he did not share Singh`s "great belief" in talks and negotiations with Pakistan and "suggested that the PM was isolated within his own government in this view".

The then NSA, says the Ambassador, himself was not a great believer in Pakistan.

"After the Prime Minister spoke in speeches of India`s shared destiny with Pakistan, he (Narayanan) told the PM you have a shared destiny, we don`t," the envoy says.

Then Roemer adds his own comments to say that Narayanan made the comments with some joviality and was totally complimentary of the PM throughout the discussion.

He made a point of commending PM`s intellect, economic prowess among the G-20 leaders and self-effacing manner as an accidental politician and former civil servant like him.

The three aspects of Narayanan`s comments that struck the Ambassador as noteworthy were his "rather blunt" assertion that foreign policy is run out of the PMO which lent credence to media chatter about the foreign ministry being marginalised under S M Krishna.

The other aspects were his admission of differences with PM on Pakistan and his intimation that Singh is isolated within his government and his repeated reference to seeking closer ties with his officials.

The Ambassador further notes that although Narayanan`s tough stance on Pakistan was well known, his readiness to distance himself from his boss in an initial courtesy call would suggest that the Prime Minister "is more isolated than we thought within his own inner circle in his effort to `trust but verify` and pursue talks with Pakistan particularly in the wake of the hammering his government took from opposition for the Sharm-al-Sheikh statement with Prime Minister Gilani."

"This certainly confirms the risks and volatility the PM faces in opening up new dialogue with Pakistan, and means increased Government of India sensitivity to perceived pressure from outsiders, particularly the US government, to re-engage with Islamabad," the Ambassador wrote.