Indira Gandhi, P N Haksar proved more than a match for Nixon-Kissinger in 1971: Ramesh


PTI, Nov 30, 2023, 12:53 PM IST

As former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger passed away, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday recalled that in 1971 then US President Richard Nixon and Kissinger created huge headaches for India but then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her close aide P N Haksar proved “more than a match for them”.

Kissinger, who dominated foreign policy as the United States extricated itself from Vietnam, died Wednesday. He was 100.In a post on X, Ramesh said, “Henry Kissinger has passed away. He was as immensely consequential as he was hugely controversial.” In his long and eventful life he has been both celebrated and condemned, Ramesh noted. “But there can be no doubt about his sheer intellectual brilliance and awesome charisma,” he said.

For the last three decades, he positioned himself as a great friend and supporter of India and indeed he was, Ramesh said.

“But this was not always so and in 1971 especially, President Nixon and he created huge headaches for India and thought they had us cornered. However, Indira Gandhi and P N Haksar proved more than a match for them,” the former Union minister said.

“I have described the Kissinger-Haksar and Nixon-Indira Gandhi encounters with archival detail in my book ‘Intertwined Lives: PN Haksar & Indira Gandhi’,” Ramesh said.

He also pointed out that Gary Bass in his book ‘The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide’ indicts Kissinger severely for his role in the events of 1971 leading up to the creation of Bangladesh. In another post, Ramesh said Haksar, while an admirer of Kissinger’s intellectual prowess, felt that he lacked moral fibre and sensitivity to democratic processes. ”The two never struck a rapport with each other. A quarter of a century later in November 1986, Haksar was to meet Anatoly Dobrynin, then a foreign policy adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev. Dobrynin had been Soviet Ambassador to Washington between 1962 and 1986. His opening words to Haksar were: ‘I am very glad to meet the man who outwitted Henry Kissinger’,” Ramesh recalled.

”Haksar replied in his most avuncular tone: ‘Am I expected to be flattered?”’ he said.
Haksar was an Indian bureaucrat, best known for his stint as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s principal secretary from December 1971 to February 1973.

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