Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had wanted to retain military ruler Pervez Musharraf's close aide Tariq Aziz as a key Pakistani interlocutor for India but the move was opposed by Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, a United States diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks has said.
During a meeting with the then US Ambassador Anne Patterson on October 2, 2008, Zardari "mused about his desire to retain Aziz to handle the India account, possibly by appointing him ambassador to India".
"But Zardari said he had found (Army chief) Kayani resistant to this proposal," Patterson said in a cable, she sent four days after the meeting. Patterson expressed surprise at the Army chief's stance, noting that "Aziz and Kayani had always seemed to have gotten long well".
Zardari told the US envoy that Aziz used to be the "big boss" as the advisor closest to Musharraf, but "now Kayani was on top and reluctant to relinquish that position".
Patterson suggested that then National Security Advisor Mahmud Ali Durrani would "be an effective player on the India account".
Aziz had played a key role in secret negotiations with two Indian National Security Advisors Brajesh Mishra of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government and the late J N Dixit in the Congress-led government.He was closely involved in Musharraf's efforts to find an out of the box solution to the dragging Kashmir dispute.