5 March 2019

A New Phase in the Great Game: U.S., Soviets, India, Pakistan vied to shape a new Afghanistan in late 1980s

by Svetlana Savranskaya

U.S. Ambassadors Dean and Raphel warned Washington unconditional support to Pakistan and fundamentalist factions of mujahedin was destabilizing the region

Reagan administration supported India’s active role in connection with Soviet withdrawal, but changed position when Delhi tried to keep extreme fundamentalists from coming to power

Pakistan's nuclear weapons program was major Indian concern in connection with U.S. aid to Islamabad; New Delhi and Washington consulted closely on arms control, cables show

Washington, D.C., February 1, 2019 – Two U.S. ambassadors in the late 1980s warned the U.S. government about potentially detrimental developments in Afghanistan in the wake of a Soviet military withdrawal, according to declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University. Ambassador John Gunther Dean in New Delhi highlighted the dangers of unfettered backing for the most hardline rebel factions in Afghanistan, while Ambassador Arnold Raphel in Islamabad pointed out the intent of America’s ally, Pakistan, to exert its influence in this “new phase ... in the perennial great game.”

The documents published here for the first time today by the National Security Archive come from the Ambassador John Gunther Dean Collection at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. They show the delicate dynamics underlying negotiations about the future of Afghanistan on the eve and during the first phase of the Soviet withdrawal that started in May 1988 and was completed on schedule on February 15, 1989.

The declassified records also offer insights into the role of Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi, mainly through his correspondence with President Ronald Reagan, selections of which are featured in today’s posting.

When Gandhi becomes prime minister after the assassination of his mother Indira, he pledges to conduct a more balanced foreign policy and to improve relations with the United States. The initial assessment of U.S.-Indian prospects was quite optimistic; the Reagan administration was looking to wean India away from its heavy reliance on the USSR and saw India’s potentially constructive role in encouraging the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan (See Document 1). During Gandhi’s first visit to Washington in June 1985, both sides expressed their hopes for an independent and non-aligned Afghanistan free of outside intervention.

In the course of his frequent correspondence with Gandhi, much of which is focused on Afghanistan. Reagan initially welcomes India’s activism on the Afghan issue and encourages Indian-Pakistani and Indian-Soviet dialog. Also initially, in line with Reagan’s position at Geneva, the U.S. administration is willing to provide guarantees of non-interference after the Soviets withdraw and informs Gandhi about it “to dispel any misperceptions.” (See Document 3).

However, the relationship soon stagnates, in the words of a State Department cable, and then sours because of U.S. support for Pakistan while the latter is backing the most radical factions of the Afghan mujahedin and keeps developing its secret nuclear program. The State Department cites India’s “unrealistic expectations” and looks for ways to reinvigorate U.S.-Indian relations. (See Document 7)

When the new ambassador, John Gunther Dean, arrives in New Delhi at the start of the new phase in U.S.-Indian relations, he quickly develops a close and trusting relationship with Rajiv Gandhi. He shares the goal of an independent and non-aligned Afghanistan and works actively with the Indian government to encourage its involvement in the Afghan settlement and a shift away from the USSR. Dean is immediately briefed by the top Indian leadership about their contacts with visiting Soviets (see Document 17) and the content of the Gandhi-Gorbachev conversations. Dean observes that the Soviet position on Afghanistan is closer to the Indian position. Over time, Dean realizes that the Reagan administration is abandoning its Geneva position regarding non-interference (meaning an end to supplying the mujahedin with arms) after the Soviet withdrawal. The U.S. ambassador finds himself sharing Indian concerns about the danger of destabilization if an Islamic government comes to power in Kabul (see Document 25).

As the Reagan administration realizes that Gandhi does not share the U.S. position of unconditional support for the “freedom fighters,” it tries to curtail Indian activism on the Afghan issue, which it initially encouraged, even hands a démarche to Indian Ambassador Kaul. Dean sends an action telegram conveying India’s resentment and concerns but gets slapped by a stern cable from Secretary of State George Shultz, which expresses doubts about the quality of Dean’s reporting from Delhi (see Document 22). After the Soviet withdrawal starts, Dean offers veiled criticism of his own government’s position and voices support for Gandhi’s position that, following the Soviet withdrawal, U.S. support for the mujahedin is counterproductive and that Pakistan is building an “Islamic nuclear force” and working for a major realignment in South Asia, which will create an Islamic coalition across the Middle East (see Document 25).

Dean’s assessment and warnings are shared and amplified by Ambassador Arnie Raphel’s reporting from Islamabad. Raphel talks to the Pakistani military leadership who tell him about their ideas for an Islamic republic in Afghanistan and “an Iran come to its senses,” which would also join an Islamic coalition stretching from Turkey to Pakistan that would in turn provide “strategic depth” and counterbalance to India. Raphel perceptively concludes that while the United States looks at Afghanistan just in terms of Soviet withdrawal, the Pakistanis are looking at it as a “new phase […] in the perennial great game.” Raphel warns Washington that Pakistani support for rebel leaders Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Burhanuddin Rabbani would not encourage a peaceful transition in Afghanistan.

On August 17, 1988, President Zia ul-Haq was killed in a mysterious plane crash, which also killed Ambassador Raphel. The following September, Ambassador Dean returns to Washington on his own initiative, requesting meetings with Shultz and Vice President George H.W. Bush because he feels he needs to discuss why the United States is abandoning its early policy on Afghanistan and supporting the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. He also harbors a theory that Israeli secret services could be behind the Zia plane crash. Upon arrival in Washington, the inconvenient ambassador is denied the meeting he thought was scheduled and instead is put under psychiatric evaluation resulting in a finding that he is “unstable” and “deranged, ” which leads to his retirement from the foreign service (see Document 30). History has shown that the concerns expressed by Ambassadors Dean and Raphel were prescient as Afghanistan fell under the control of the most radical and repressive fundamentalist government in the 1990s, which in turn led to the resurgence of the Taliban.

This document provides a summary of the conclusions drawn from the SIG meeting following the Indian prime minister's first visit to Washington on June 11-15. Gandhi's trip came less than a month after his visit to Moscow (his first to a foreign country as prime minister). Undersecretary Michael Armacost chaired the meeting, which covered all aspects of U.S.-Indian relations. After the successful visit and talks between Gandhi and President Reagan, the U.S. leadership saw the prospect of a new stage in U.S.-Indian relations untainted by ideology and even a possibility to wean Rajiv away from India's heavy reliance on the USSR. The SIG discussion welcomes Gandhi's expressed interest "to play a more active role on Afghanistan," and suggests the following action: "Brief the Indians on the U.S.-Soviet talks on Afghanistan; obtain feedback on any Gandhi-Gorbachev communications; consult with New Delhi following the next round of U.S. (Cordovez) negotiations in Afghanistan; and ensure that the Paks also brief the Indians. (State)" Afghanistan was seen to be a major area of U.S.-Indian engagement.

New Ambassador John Gunther Dean reports on his conversations with Indian officials about Rajiv Gandhi's stopover in Moscow on his way back from New York. Dean speculates that Gandhi went to Moscow to be seen as evenhanded and an international figure. In his conversations with Gorbachev, he focused on disarmament and on "his current fixation, i.e. Pakistan making a nuclear bomb, despite President Zia's assertion to the contrary." In his first press conference in Delhi, he pictured Gorbachev as "being more understanding of Indian and NAM concerns than President Reagan." Gorbachev's policies also seemed to be closer to Indian policies "than those of President Reagan." Another important subject of his conversation with Gorbachev was Afghanistan, where Rajiv expressed his regret that "the United States is not willing to talk about any guarantee (after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan)."

Reagan sends a letter to Gandhi in advance of the latter's meeting with Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan. He talks about his apprehensions about "nuclear competition in the subcontinent," and praises Gandhi for his efforts to build a more peaceful South Asia. Touching on Afghanistan, Reagan emphasizes that "in order to dispel any misperceptions about our willingness to serve as guarantors to a comprehensive settlement (in Afghanistan), we recently informed Secretary General Perez de Cuellar in writing of our readiness to accept the draft instrument on international guarantees, provided that the central issue of Soviet troops withdrawal is resolved."

Dean reports on his meeting with Rajiv Gandhi on the eve of Dean's trip to Washington for consultations. This cable deals with the part of the meeting where Gandhi discusses Gorbachev's January 15 nuclear abolition proposal. The Indian leader received the Gorbachev proposal very positively but did not want to "react too hastily, certainly not without having fully taken into account both Soviet and American views." He asked if the "U.S. could give him its innermost thinking on this proposal." Rajiv also expressed willingness to raise questions about the Soviet proposal "if there were aspects which were objectionable," because if doubts were raised by the Indians, "it might have more credibility in certain circles than if the same views were expressed by Americans." At this time, however, the Reagan administration was deeply engaged in developing its own response to Gorbachev's proposal, which was positively received by Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz but caused a lot of consternation in the Defense Department and the NSC as well as among the allies.

This is a belated response to Gandhi's letter from October 24, 1985, in which he expressed hope for progress in Reagan's Geneva talks with Gorbachev. Reagan summarizes his talks in Geneva, stressing the statement that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," and his agreement with Gorbachev that intensified dialogue is needed on the principle of 50 percent reductions in offensive nuclear weapons. The president proceeds to explain his position on SDI and that the program is "in full compliance" with the ABM treaty. Another issue he informs Rajiv about is that although the United States is in favor of the comprehensive test ban in principle, it will not stop testing unless stringent verification measures are adopted. He cites Soviet prior violations of the test ban as a reason.

Ambassador Dean visits Rajiv Gandhi at home to transmit Reagan's reaction to Gorbachev's abolition and test ban proposal. Dean suggests that Ambassador Kampelman might be available to come to Delhi to discuss details of U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations, which Gandhi welcomes enthusiastically. Dean hands Gandhi Reagan's reply to Gorbachev and the response to the Delhi Six nuclear testing proposal. Just three days before the meeting, the second letter from the Delhi Six was made public, and the U.S. administration was studying the letter. Dean suggests that "with [Olof] Palme's demise, it is quite clear that Gandhi sees for himself a role as the leader of the Delhi Six." This cable shows close consultations between Washington and New Delhi on arms control and U.S.-Soviet negotiations.

This State Department memo describes "stagnation, or even deterioration" in U.S.-Indian relations following rapid improvement and "unrealistic expectations" after Rajiv Gandhi's visit to Washington in June 1985. One of the reasons is the continued U.S. support for Pakistan; the United States is "blamed for not putting enough pressure on Pakistan to halt its covert nuclear program." Among the initiatives to reestablish momentum, the memo suggests sales of high technology, including a supercomputer and light combat aircraft; reinvigoration of a high-level dialogue including presidential correspondence; an exchange of visits at the level of secretary of defense and assistant secretary of state; and engaging India as a partner on issues involving Southern Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The arms sales relationship with Pakistan is listed among the "pitfalls ahead."

Dean gives a detailed summary of the meeting between Prime Minister Gandhi and Congressman Stephen Solarz (D-NY), which the Ambassador calls "the best meeting I have ever attended with the Prime Minister since my arrival here nine months ago." Gandhi and Solarz discuss India-Pakistan relations and the next election in Pakistan. Gandhi questions the U.S. arms sales to Pakistan, saying that if the purpose of these arms sales is to deter the Soviets, "why provide Pakistan with the Harpoon missile which is mounted on naval vessels? Why provide the Paks with the latest advanced tanks which cannot be used in the mountainous terrain on the Afghan-Pak border?" He questions the wisdom of providing F-16 fighter planes, too. Gandhi talks also about his suspicions that Pakistan is close to making nuclear weapons despite U.S. efforts to prevent it. On U.S.-Soviet nuclear negotiations, Gandhi expresses his perception that Gorbachev is far ahead of the United States in making new proposals and endorsing everything that the Delhi Six is proposing. He says the "U.S. approach was too negative and defensive," and asks Solarz "why couldn't the U.S. take a more positive stance?"

Here, Reagan is sending a secret letter to Rajiv Gandhi on the eve of Gandhi's meeting with Gorbachev. The U.S. president encourages Gandhi to raise the issue of a Soviet withdrawal with Gorbachev. Reagan says, "we do not seek "to bleed" the Soviets in Afghanistan by prolonging the war," and that U.S. recognizes "Soviet interests in a secure southern border." Yet, he calls the Soviet partial withdrawal "phony," and insists that the United States has to step up its arms sales relationship and security support for Pakistan because of "escalating Soviet military action in Afghanistan." This Soviet activity has resulted in "Pakistani interest in an enhanced early warning capability." Reagan states that "our objective is clear, namely to restore Afghanistan non-alignment, independence, and territorial integrity." He believes that "a political settlement is within reach, if only Moscow will agree to a realistic timetable for withdrawal." Reagan implores Gandhi: "I urge you to use your talks with the General Secretary to discuss the need to hasten resolution of this issue which is of such great concern to people everywhere." Unbeknownst to Reagan, the Soviets have just held a Politburo session on November 13, which focused on the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Dean's summary of a short private conversation with Rajiv Gandhi focuses on Gandhi's summit with Gorbachev and concerns about arming the mujahedin. Gandhi speaks very positively about his conversations with Gorbachev on Afghanistan during the latter's recent trip to Delhi. He calls Gorbachev "a modern man who is willing to take chances by exploring new formulas to resolve problems." He mentions that the Soviet leader also willing to make high technology available to India. In contrast, Gandhi talks about Caspar Weinberger's visit, in which "he was disappointed" because a lot of promises were made but the result was "complete silence" on the U.S. side regarding technology transfers. Gandhi is also incensed by statements regarding the possibility of providing AWACs for Pakistan. In a reference to the recently revealed Reagan administration Iran arms-for-hostages scandal, Gandhi also mentions his information that "there had apparently been 'co-mingling' of funds derived from the profits of the arms sales to Iran with the U.S. funds for the mujahedin resistance and a matching Saudi contribution for the resistance fighters."

Dean summarizes his meeting with Indian Foreign Secretary Venkateswaran on December 9, during which Venkateswaran briefed him on the Gandhi-Gorbachev one-on-one discussion on Afghanistan. Gandhi shared the gist of Reagan's letter with Gorbachev, but he has the impression that Gorbachev "wants to get out of the Afghanistan imbroglio but perceived the U.S. position as not being conducive to Soviet withdrawal." The foreign secretary said that from his conversation in the Soviet Foreign Ministry he had the impression that the Soviets would be willing to withdraw in two years or even in a year-and-a-half, but that "the Soviets felt that the suggestion by our side of three months was unrealistic." Gandhi was "impressed by Gorbachev's willingness to explore new approaches to old problems." Dean also mentions that "there remains a lingering Indian suspicion that certain elements in Pakistan don't really wish to see an early political solution to the Afghan problem because it is the very existence of that problem, which explains the sizeable U.S. assistance to Pakistan." In a final comment, Dean suggests that Washington should try to use India's good offices to resolve differences between the U.S. and Soviet positions.

This cable contains the text of Gandhi's letter to Reagan from January 7, 1987. Gandhi thanks Reagan for his letter of November 21, 1986, and states his views on Afghanistan and his concerns about Pakistan. He relays his impression from his meeting with Gorbachev that "the Soviet Union would like to withdraw its forces in a realistic time-frame for an Afghanistan which would be nonaligned and not unfriendly to the Soviet Union." At the same time, Gandhi believes that "Pakistan has been exploiting the situation in Afghanistan to acquire higher levels and types of arms," especially AWACS aircraft, the introduction of which "would trigger a qualitative new phase in the arms race in our area." Gandhi shared these concerns with the Pakistani prime minister when they met in December 1986. He also emphasizes his support for a nuclear-free world and laments "the breakdown of the Reykjavik talks, which could have been a historic turning point in the post-war period." Gandhi signed the Delhi Declaration on a non-violent and nuclear-free world when Gorbachev visited India after the Reykjavik summit.

In response to Gandhi's letter from January 7, Reagan tries to reassure the Indian leader about the U.S.-India security relationship. He informs the prime minister that U.S. authorities made positive decisions on three security projects important for India-the sale of a supercomputer, an early launch of the INSAT 1-D satellite, and the participation of U.S. companies in the development of the Light Combat Aircraft. Reagan thanks Gandhi for sharing the content of his discussions with Gorbachev. He expresses his support for the Soviet desire to withdraw from Afghanistan but also his "skepticism about Soviet intentions," saying that the "current Soviet scheme for national reconciliation seems to have as its chief purpose the preservation of the Najibullah regime." Reagan encourages Gandhi to "intensify [his] dialogue with the Soviet Union as soon as possible, using your considerable influence at this important moment to urge the Soviet leadership to address urgently and realistically the difficult but essential issues it faces in Afghanistan." In turn, the President promises that "the U.S. will continue to do everything to press Pakistan on the nuclear program."

Dean summarizes his conversation with Gandhi on July 10 after the prime minister's meeting with Gorbachev on July 2. Gandhi expressed his doubt about the prospects of Najibullah's national reconciliation, and his impression that "the Afghan [sic] are so divided that it will be difficult to find a political solution to the imbroglio." Gandhi said that in his conversations with Gorbachev he "found the Soviet leader to be more concerned about the strengthening of fundamentalism than about increased influence of moderate Afghan leaders who enjoy the support of the West." Gandhi said Gorbachev did not even oppose participation of the former King during the transitional period.

In this letter sent on the eve of Gandhi's visit to Washington, the Indian leader thanks Reagan for his decisions on the supercomputer, the Light Combat Aircraft, and the INSAT 1-D satellite that he mentioned in his March letter. He expresses his hope for "our cooperation in other advanced technology areas as well." Gandhi mentions his interest in further discussion on the Pakistani nuclear program and the Afghanistan situation when he arrives in Washington.

This long and contentious discussion is an effort by Soviet and U.S. negotiators to bring their positions on Afghanistan closer together on the eve of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit and to get the Soviets to commit to a timeframe for the withdrawal of troops. Soviet Ambassador Yuly Vorontsov insists on finding a workable political settlement for Afghanistan within the framework of national reconciliation. He agrees to bringing in former King Zahir Shah to preside over a loya Jirga (legislative assembly) and to oversee the formation of an interim government. Vorontsov says Gorbachev "would not respond to a Reagan demand on the timetable, but would be prepared to volunteer Soviet plans for a timetable" at the upcoming summit. Vorontsov also implies that the U.S. is not helping encourage the resistance leader to engage in the political solution: "They sit in Peshawar with the nice life and criticize everything. They come to Washington and are praised by the President for not engaging in national reconciliation..." The Soviet ambassador reads to Armacost an intelligence report alleging that on October 21 the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan met with resistance leaders (Hekmatyar, Sayyaf, Rabbani) "to discuss carrying out propaganda and military measures directed at compromising the policy of national reconciliation." Armacost protests that the report is "full of misrepresentations," but does not deny that the meeting took place.

Dean provides a detailed report on his two-hour conversation with Gandhi's diplomatic adviser, Rohen Sen, who volunteered to brief Dean about a sensitive discussion between Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov on Afghanistan. The discussion revealed the closeness of the Soviet and Indian positions in their strong preference for a future Afghanistan to be a non-aligned state and for preventing the fundamentalists from coming to power. Gandhi said to Ryzhkov that "the victory of fundamentalism in Afghanistan would affect adversely the Muslim areas of Soviet Central Asia." Ryzhkov noted that some fundamentalists in Peshawar were opposed to the role of the former king while the groups actually fighting in Afghanistan were "more amenable to a settlement than certain groups working out of Peshawar." Sen relates to Dean that Ryzhkov told Gandhi that "the Soviets are in touch with all repeat all resistance groups in and outside of Afghanistan either directly or through trusted intermediaries." Ryzhkov said that the Soviets would be "happy to see the Indians play a greater role than they have done in the past" in the process of the Afghan settlement.

Gandhi calls Dean to his house and hands him the text of a letter to be conveyed to Reagan "without delay." The letter outlines India's position on Afghanistan, gives the gist of negotiations with the Soviets and strongly protests the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee amendment to a continuing resolution that equates the nuclear programs of India and Pakistan, saying that it would adversely affect U.S.-Indian relations. Referring to the Indian-Soviet discussions on Afghanistan, Gandhi states that "the Soviet Union shared our assessment that only a realistically balanced and representative coalition government in Afghanistan would contribute to stability in the region." The Indian leader emphasizes to Reagan, "we do think that it is in our interest as well as yours to avoid a situation where the fundamentalist elements gain an upper hand in Afghanistan," and that the danger to regional stability arises "from Pakistan's determined quest for nuclear weapons." Gandhi reminds Reagan about his firm stance in favor of complete nuclear disarmament, which is also Reagan's position.

Reagan responds to Gandhi's letter of December 4 and reflects on his conversations with Gorbachev on Afghanistan during their summit meeting in Washington. He states that a settlement depends on a firm timetable for Soviet withdrawal, but presents Gorbachev's position as not precise enough beyond the general 12-month timetable proposed by Najibullah. Referring to the concept of "national reconciliation," Reagan writes, "Mr. Gorbachev seems wedded to Najibullah's 'unrealistic' coalition approach, rather than accept the need for a fresh start which would have the full support of the Afghan people." Reagan states that the summit produced a "lack of movement" on Afghanistan in contrast to successful nuclear arms reductions culminating in the signing of the INF Treaty. At the end of the letter, he mentions that the amendment on Indian and Pakistani nuclear programs did not pass in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Gandhi thanks Reagan for the letter of December 18 and congratulates him on signing the INF treaty, calling it "truly historical [sic]." Gandhi believes "nuclear powers, present and potential, should be involved in a common endeavor to eliminate the nuclear menace and prevent the emergence of new destabilizing weapon systems." Gandhi informs Reagan about his meeting with Najibullah and India's active efforts to reach out to different actors involved in the Afghan settlement, such as Zahir Shah and "other groups within and outside Afghanistan." The letter says, "In cooperation with all groups and individuals concerned, we are trying to do our best to facilitate the emergence of a stable and representative political order which meets with the aspirations of all sections of the people of Afghanistan." Gandhi obviously believes that such an active position in the Afghan settlement taken by India is appreciated by the United States.

Gandhi refers to his meetings with Reagan in Washington in October 1988 in regards to his understanding that the U.S. welcomes India's active role in the Afghan settlement and reminds the U.S. president that "in response to the suggestions made when I was in Washington, we had initiated contacts with various groups within and outside Afghanistan." He also informs Reagan about his contacts with the Soviets, which he believes contributed to the Soviet decision on an "early withdrawal in a reasonable timeframe." In this letter, Gandhi gives Reagan a heads-up on Gorbachev's forthcoming announcement that the withdrawal will begin on May 15 and will be finished in ten months with half of the troops to be withdrawn in the first phase. He hopes India and the U.S. "will remain in close touch with regard to further developments for ensuring out common objective of an independent and non-aligned Afghanistan, free from outside interference and intervention."

This is an action cable with Ambassador Dean describing confusion among the Indian leadership (and adding his own veiled criticism) about the Reagan administration's reaction to Indian efforts to play a role in the Afghan settlement. Dean informs Washington about the "Prime Minister's perception that the United States government resents increased Indian activism on the Afghanistan issue." Indian ambassador in Washington Kaul was handed a d�marche about the forthcoming meeting between an Indian representative and Zahir Shah in Rome. According to Dean, such warnings to Kaul against Indian activism and other expressions of displeasure about Indian contacts with various groups in Afghanistan could undermine trust and cooperation between Gandhi and Reagan. According to Dean, Gandhi believes that such activism was exactly what the Reagan administration wanted, but had switched its position recently. Dean suggests that Reagan send a letter to Dean that would reassure him about U.S.-Indian cooperation on Afghanistan and thank him for the information that he provides to Washington such as advance word about Gorbachev's announcement on Afghanistan.

In response to Dean's cable about Indian concerns (see above), Secretary of State George Shultz sends a strongly worded message suggesting that "whoever is following Afghanistan for you doesn't seem to be fully informed on our exchanges with GOI." Shultz tells the ambassador that although the U.S. government encouraged Indian activism on the Afghan issue, it was only "to use their knowledge of the internal dynamics in Afghanistan to foster a greater sense of realism in Moscow about their policy dilemma and options in Afghanistan," and not "to engage itself in an operational way in seeking to shape the internal political arrangements in Afghanistan." With Indians reaching out to different factions of Afghans and trying to meet with Zahir Shah, Washington is not happy because they do not necessarily share the outcomes preferred by the Resistance and their Pakistani backers. Shultz emphasizes that "we welcome helpful activity, but that, perhaps unintentionally, some recent initiatives have been distinctly unhelpful." He concludes, notably putting Dean's understanding of Indian policy in doubt: "If our relations with the Indians can't stand this kind of candor, then the foundation may not be as strong as the reporting from New Delhi has been suggesting."

This cable contains the text of Gandhi's letter of February 26 reporting on the results of a discussion of the U.S.-Indian working group on narcotics and the recent positive trends showing a decline in the production of heroin obtained in or through India. He mentions also positive results from discussions with Pakistani officials since most drugs in India are of Pakistani origin. The letter also points to the Afghan angle: "The disturbed conditions on the Afghan-Pakistan border is [sic] one of the major sources of the problem. This is an added dimension to our stake in an early settlement of the Afghanistan issue."

This cable from Ambassador Dean summarizes a 50-minute conversation with Gandhi in which he expressed strong concerns about the dismissal of Prime Minister Junejo of Pakistan by Zia. Gandhi believes that this development sets back the process of democratic development in Pakistan and strengthens the role of the army, led by Zia. Most of the conversation was devoted to Afghanistan and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism supported by Pakistan. Gandhi stressed that with the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the supply of U.S. arms to Pakistan "no longer has the same basis." While he stated that U.S. and Indian goals regarding the withdrawal were the same, "what follows in Afghanistan should be left to the Afghans to sort out themselves." Rajiv spoke strongly about his meeting with Najibullah "because Najib is committed to keeping the fundamentalists like Hekmatyar from taking control of the government in Kabul. The Indians share this objective. They do not support Najibullah as a leader but more for trying to keep the extreme fundamentalists such as Hekmatyar from gaining control in Kabul. India can live with any kind of a government in Kabul which is not run by the extreme Islamic fundamentalists." Gandhi "wondered whether the American position was quite similar."

Watching Islamabad working on its nuclear program and Saudi Arabia trying to procure CSS-2 missiles from China, Gandhi asked the American ambassador, "Isn't the progress made by Pakistan in the nuclear weapons program an achievement towards an Islamic nuclear force?" He talked about India's policy of trying both to normalize relations with the United States and increase ties with the Soviet Union as "balance" or "symmetry" that he has achieved with the superpowers. He took positive note of the U.S.-Soviet summit in Moscow and Soviet efforts to improve relations with China. When asked by Dean about Indian purchases of arms from the Soviets, Gandhi responded that India would only consider procuring AWACS from the Soviets if Pakistan got them from the United States, because at the time of the Soviet withdrawal "India must assume that AWACS will be procured by Pakistan against India." Dean's summary shows Gandhi being more assertive in his veiled criticism of the U.S. policy of support for the most fundamentalist factions of the Afghan opposition than in any previous interactions.

This is a summary of conversations between U.S. General George Crist and Ambassador Raphel with Pakistani Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Akhtar Abdul Rahman Khan and Vice Chief of the Army Staff General Aslam Beg. The Pakistani officers express their concern that after the withdrawal the Soviets would try to split Afghanistan and control it in other ways because of Russia's "historic desire to expand toward the warm waters of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea." [Ambassador Dean writes "nonsense" on the margins of the document next to this sentence.] This belief, about the Soviets' eternal drive to warm seas as a reason for invasion, was shared by Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. The generals share with their U.S. interlocutors their strategies on how to "unseat Najib" and not allow the Soviets to split the mujahedin, including delaying of the return of the refugees, who are potential fighters. The generals feel that "Moscow and Delhi have a common interest in preventing establishment of an Islamic government" in Kabul. In their view, an Islamic republic would be the best outcome for Afghanistan because then "an Afghan Islamic republic would join with Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, once the latter 'comes to its senses' in an Islamic economic and political bloc which could serve as a barrier to regional Soviet ambitions." In a prophetic comment, Ambassador Raphel concludes: "Clearly, the Paks feel that a new phase has started in the perennial great game."

Ambassador Raphel (who was a good friend of Ambassador Dean) agrees with Dean's analysis based on his Indian contacts that Pakistan is looking beyond the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan to start a new round of the "great game" and expand its influence by creating a grand Islamic coalition. He explains that "[w]e in the States too often tend to think of Afghanistan mainly in terms of the Soviet withdrawal. Both Islamabad and Delhi see the possibility of a major strategic reshuffling with a strong Islamic bloc stretching from Turkey to Pakistan, with Afghanistan a full and supporting member, confronting a Hindu India with a large Muslim minority." Although Raphel thinks both India and Pakistan overestimate the possibility of such a bloc emerging, he alerts the United States about this perspective. Raphel prophetically writes: "For most Americans, the Soviet withdrawal is the victory. For our South Asian friends, it is only the first act in a much larger drama."

Ambassador Dean is quite outspoken in his criticism of President Zia of Pakistan for dismissing his prime minister and national assembly. He argues that the U.S. should follow its professed principles of supporting democracy and that "congressional notification of AWACS after Zia has abrogated three years of impressive progress toward democracy in Pakistan would be a devastating blow to our credibility as a champion of democracy and human rights." The activist ambassador concludes his cable with this advice to the Reagan administration: "I strongly urge that any further discussion of AWACS be held in abeyance not just for a few days or until Zia makes new promises but for as long as it takes for Zia to demonstrate by deed his commitment to a truly democratic government." Two months later Zia would be killed in a plane crash, and three months later Dean would be forced to submit to a psychiatric examination in Washington and then to retire.

Newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (Ambassador Arnie Raphel was killed in the plane crash that killed President Zia on August 17, 1988) Robert Oakley talks to Chief of Staff of the Army General Mirza Beg about the situation in Pakistan after Zia's death and its impact on the wider region. Beg complains to the U.S. envoy that India, the USSR and Afghanistan are working together trying to destabilize Pakistan. Looking to the future, Beg sees positive realities for Pakistan: "Pakistan and Afghanistan are now one. Two nations but one people. Beg denied the importance of the upsurge in Islamic fundamentalism and said that there would be fundamentalist government in Afghanistan." In the most important part of the conversation, Beg says he is looking forward "to a "strategic consensus" of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, which he terms a grand design," that would create "a new regional power equation and provide the U.S. with new options for dealing with India, the Soviet Union and the Mideast." After discussing U.S.-Pakistani security relations and arms sales, Beg turns to the situation inside Afghanistan. He says the Resistance "could now choke the Soviets' withdrawal routes if they wanted," and that "the next stage [...] would be the compression and gradual strangulation of urban centers, but not direct assaults." Although Beg says that the Resistance does not aim at "the collapse of Kabul or the Najib government," he also makes clear that "the new leaders (such as Hekmatyar and Rabbani were not traditionalists or tribal leaders, and they would not cede power to others who had not fought the Soviets."

This section of Ambassador Dean's oral history deals with his service in India and the quite scandalous story of his removal by the Reagan administration on grounds of mental instability. Most likely, Dean was forced into retirement because the activist ambassador disagreed with the Reagan policy toward the settlement of the Afghan conflict and because Dean had an unconventional interpretation of it-namely, that there was a possibility the Israeli secret service was behind the plane crash that killed President Zia and Ambassador Raphel. In this outspoken interview, Dean traces the evolution of his own position, which over time became much closer to Gandhi's and even the Soviet position on post-withdrawal Afghanistan than to that of his own administration. He blames the worsening of the Afghan turmoil directly on Reagan and Pakistan and sees that position as the real grounds for his removal: "I was fully aware that some groups in Washington did not appreciate my sympathy for India's policy of non-alignment for Afghanistan, nor what I perceived was Washington's true policy in South Asia: full support for the most fundamentalist of all Islamic movements to take over political control in Kabul." Dean recorded part of this interview after 9/11 (the exact date of India section is unknown) and has some words of wisdom for President George W. Bush.

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