ISLAMABAD – The change in the governance status of Pakistan’s Northern Areas was Pakistan’s signal to India to jumpstart backchannel talks on Kashmir, a US Embassy cable, reportedly, said. The cable had been sent by the US Embassy to its government on 1-9-2009 and was released by Wikileaks on August 30, along with thousands of other secrete government documents.
“The intention of the government of Pakistan in making the reform is to signal Pakistan’s willingness to jump-start the back-channel talks on Kashmir to India. The back-channel deal under President Musharraf would have granted the Northern Areas to Pakistan and ceded Indian-held Jammu and Ladakh to India,” the cable said.“The actual reforms for self-rule, as they are being touted, will appeal to the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan who will appreciate, at a minimum, recognition of the name they themselves use to describe their home. Whether the reforms will meet the other purpose suggested by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan Awan, of curbing the appeal of Talibanisation, remains to be seen,” the cable said.
Prime Minister Gilani had announced on August 29 changes to the governance of Pakistan’s Northern Areas, the northern-most region of the country. The region will be henceforth known as Gilgit-Baltistan under the new Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Government Ordinance of 2009.