The Brink of War: Unstable Pakistan Has US on Edge
Part 2: On the Brink of War between India and Pakistan
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari: "Stated flatly to Ambassador that the government of Pakistan would have no choice but to retaliate if attacked, and post has no doubt they are sincere."
Many of the discussions between Islamabad and Washington deal with the topic of money, with billions of dollars involved. The war on terror in Pakistan is expensive, and for many it is also big business. In September 2009, for instance, the Pakistani finance minister complained once again to US special envoy Holbrooke that a payment of $500 million still needed to be made. The top diplomat responded that Washington couldn't transfer the amount "because the Pakistani military had not properly accounted for its spending." He added that Congress "required stricter accounting" for Coalition Support Fund (CSF) monies. CSF funding is the money that the US uses to buy the military cooperation of foreign countries in the so-called war on terror. Nobody receives more CSF money than Pakistan. Over the past nine years, over $7 billion in CSF funds have been transferred to the country, with even more money coming from other sources.
Nonetheless, the head of the army, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said he wanted to account for the funding "following UN standards," -- in other words, by naming lump sums. He didn't want to have to give an exact account of how he was using the money. The diplomatic protocols make it clear that General Kayani is the most powerful man in Pakistan. They also show the weakness of the civilian president, Zardari. Zardari and his people "agree that Pakistan's biggest threat comes from a growing militant insurgency on the Pak-Afghan border," Patterson wrote in February 2009, shortly before Kayani's visit to Washington. "The military and ISI have not yet made that leap; they still view India as their principle threat and Afghanistan as strategic depth in a possible conflict with India. They continue to provide overt or tacit support for proxy forces (including the Haqqani group, Commander Nazir, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, and Lashkar-e-Taiba) as a foreign policy tool."
At the same time, she portrayed General Kayani as "often direct, frank, and thoughtful."
Disdain for the New President
Only a few months after Zardari had been sworn into office, Kayani and the ISI director-general Pasha were making no secret of the fact that they felt disdain for the new president. "Kayani and Pasha's body language was disrespectful of their own president," then-Afghan Interior Minister Hanif Atmar indignantly told the Americans in the spring of 2009.
In November of last year, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik even urgently requested a meeting at the US Embassy in Islamabad because, as he put it, the government needed political protection for the president. According to Malik, ISI Director-General Pasha was spinning intrigues against Zardari. The US ambassador was not convinced that Pasha was acting alone. "Malik's view that ISI Director-General Pasha is behind the moves against President Zardari and that Chief of Army Staff Kayani is not involved is either naive or intentionally misleading," she wrote to the US State Department. "It would be impossible for Pasha to move without Kayani's acquiescence."
<<149456>> 4/10/2008 22:26 08STATE37957 Secretary of State SECRET
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DE RUEHC #7957 1012232 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 102226Z APR 08 FM SECSTATE WASHDC TO AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD IMMEDIATE 0000 TAGS: KNNP, MNUC, PARM, PK, PREL SUBJECT: POSSIBLE RELEASE OF A.Q. KHAN
S e c r e t state 037957
E.o. 12958: decl: 04/10/2018 Tags: knnp, mnuc, parm, pk, prel Subject: possible release of a.q. Khan
Classified By: SCA Richard A. Boucher, Reasons: 1.4 B C AND D
-------------------------- SUMMARY AND Action request --------------------------
1. (C) Washington is concerned that the government of Pakistan may release A.Q. Khan. Washington requests Post to please draw from points in para 4, as appropriate, with senior government officials including the Director General of Strategic Plans Division Lt. Gen (retd) Kidwai.
End summary and action request.
---------- objectives ----------
2. (S/NF) Post should achieve the following objectives:
-- Inquire about the accuracy of press reports indicating that Dr. Khan will soon be released from house arrest.
-- Express Washington,s strong opposition to the release of Dr. Khan and urge the Government of Pakistan to continue holding him under house arrest.,
-- Explain the possible negative consequences that the release of Dr. Khan will have on Pakistan,s image in the international community. Note that it would undermine the positive steps Pakistan has taken on nonproliferation.
-- Urge Pakistan to consider the long-term gains it could garner from the international community by continuing Dr. Khan,s current status rather than the short-term domestic political gains that could result from his release.
---------- background ----------
3. (S/NF) Recent press reports indicate a plan for Dr. Khan,s release was approved for delivery to Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani. We should determine the accuracy of the reports and clearly indicate to the new government, as well as Director General Kidwai, our strong opposition to Khan,s release. Dr. Khan was the central figure in the most egregious violation of nonproliferation norms to date and his release would likely indicate to the international community a disregard by Pakistan for the dire threat still posed to international security by Dr. Khan,s activities. It could also undermine ongoing prosecution efforts underway in other countries to punish Khan associates and would be a setback to our ongoing bilateral nonproliferation efforts with Pakistan.
-------------- Talking Points --------------
4. (S/Rel Pakistan) Begin Talking Points for Pakistan:
-- Pakistan has taken positive steps over the past few years to demonstrate its commitment to nonproliferation, including enacting its 2004 export control law, establishing the Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV), and joining the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
-- We are deeply troubled by press reports that Pakistan may consider releasing Dr. Khan. We hope that these press reports are not accurate.
-- We urge you not to change Dr. Khan,s current status. While the release of Dr. Khan would be viewed positively by some in Pakistan, it would undermine Pakistan,s broader nonproliferation efforts and signal to the international community that Pakistan is no longer concerned about the harm caused by Dr. Khan and his network.
-- When Dr. Khan was pardoned by President Musharraf, Pakistan was widely criticized in the international community for not having prosecuted him or anyone else associated with his proliferation activities.
-- The damage done to international security by Dr. Khan and his associates is not a closed book. Other countries continue efforts to prosecute those involved. The U.S., and other countries, as well as the IAEA, are expending enormous amounts of time and resources to address the threats that resulted from Dr. Khan,s engagement with Iran, North Korea, and possibly other states.
-- Because of Khan,s actions, the international community must contend with the reality that the uranium enrichment technology and nuclear weapons designs that were sold to Libya are now available to other states and non-state actors. This will make it much harder to combat nuclear proliferation in the future.
-- The U.S. and Pakistan have worked together to address the problems caused by Dr. Khan,s proliferation to other countries and we look forward to our continued close cooperation on this and other related issues.
End talking points for Pakistan.
------------------ reporting deadline ------------------
5. (U) Please report response if possible by April 17, 2008.
---------------- point of contact ----------------
6. (U) Department point of contact is Chris Herrington ISN/CPI, 647-5035. Please slug all responses for ISN, T, and SCA. Washington appreciates Post,s assistance. Rice
<<173531>> 10/13/2008 9:43 08ISLAMABAD3248 Embassy Islamabad CONFIDENTIAL
VZCZCXRO4586 OO RUEHLH RUEHPW DE RUEHIL #3248/01 2870943 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 130943Z OCT 08 FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9233 INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 9238 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 8856 RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 3873 RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 0440 RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 6180 RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 5010 RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY RHWSMRC/USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY TAGS: PREL, PTER, PGOV, PK SUBJECT: PAKISTAN'S PARLIAMENT BEGINS TERRORISM DEBATE
C o n f i d e n t i a l section 01 of 03 islamabad 003248
E.o. 12958: decl: 10/13/2018 Tags: prel, pter, pgov, pk Subject: pakistan's parliament begins terrorism debate
Classified By: CDA Jerry Feierstein, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)
1. (C) Summary. The October 8-9 closed joint session of parliament convoked by President Zardari to address the security situation has been widely praised as a good first step in convincing Pakistan's elected leadership to take ownership of the fight against extremism; this effort now should be extended to reach the general public. Director General of Military Operations LtGen Pasha's briefing to the group consisted largely of graphic video and other footage demonstrating what one parliamentarian called the inhumane and anti-Islamic nature of the militants. Pasha reportedly blamed India, Russia and the UAE for supporting Baloch and Taliban militancy and defended Pakistani sovereignty against incursions by U.S. forces, but reportedly he also spoke positively about what he termed the U.S. use of drones, noting the vast majority of those killed in drone attacks were foreign fighters or Taliban.
2. (C) The joint session has been extended by another four days, beginning October 13 when Information Minister Sherry Rehman will present the GOP's strategy to fight extremism. The session increasingly promises to be a lively debate with the Interior, Defense, Finance and Foreign Affairs Ministers lined up to answer parliamentarians' questions. NSA Durrani shared with Charge October 10 a draft of that presentation that follows classic counter-insurgency strategy. It does say the GOP has not given the U.S. a green light to do cross-border operations, but uses that as a launching pad to attack the presence of foreign militants and their violations of Pakistani sovereignty. It goes on to call on the tribes to eject the foreigners and support the government and offers them development assistance if they come around.
3. (C) Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif attended the briefing but left it to his Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar to criticize the government, mostly on procedural terms so far, by demanding that the civilian government explain their strategy and how it differs from that of the former Musharraf government. End Summary.
4. (C) President Asif Zardari convoked a joint session of parliament on October 8 to be briefed by the military on the current security situation. This was the third time in Pakistan's history that a joint session of parliament was formed as a committee of the whole to hear outside testimony (the first was in 1974 to discuss religious riots; the second was in 1988 to debate whether to sign the Geneva peace accord on Afghanistan). Chief of Army Staff General Kayani attended but newly promoted LtGeneral Pasha delivered the military's brief as Director General of Military Operations (Pasha moved over to become Director of Inter-Services Intelligence on October 10).
5. (C) Lending a sense of urgency to the proceedings, on October 9, suicide bombers attacked an Anti-Terrorism Unit of Islamabad Police injuring a dozen and set off a roadside bomb in Dir, Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) killing 12. Also on October 9, a bearded man in a burqa was arrested at Islamabad airport on suspicion of terrorism; across Pakistan there have been numerous hoax bomb threats since the September 20 Marriott bombing. On October 10, over 60 (the death toll is still rising) members of an anti-Taliban jirga were killed in Orakzai, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and in Bajaur, FATA, the Taliban beheaded four elders of the Charmang tribe. Also on October 10, the Taliban blew up the house of another Awami National Party leader in Dir and kidnapped a nazim (mayor) in Swat, NWFP. Earlier in the week, explosions at several juice shops in Lahore were blamed, not on the Taliban, but on conservative groups reportedly seeking to discourage "immoral" behavior (the bars were allegedly trysting places for unmarried couples). These attacks followed the October 2 suicide bombing targeting Awami National Party leader Asfundyar Wali Khan in Wali Bagh, NWFP, and the October 7 attack on a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz parliamentarian in Bhakkar, Punjab. Overall, there have been 40 suicide bombings in Pakistan so far in 2008.
6. (C) The joint session was held "in camera" without press but parliamentarians have been providing bits and pieces of information about the briefing, which was followed by a question and answer session. The original Q&A session,
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scheduled for 30 minutes, lasted over four hours. The parliament then convened in joint session on October 9 to continue questions; it agreed to meet for another four days beginning October 13, when Information Minister Sherry Rehman will brief the group on the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) strategy to tackle terrorism.
7. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx that Pasha's briefing consisted in large part of videos and photos of Taliban and other terrorist organization activities that demonstrated the militants were both inhumane and un-Islamic. At several points, xxxxxxxxxxxx said female parliamentarians asked the Army to stop showing disturbing footage, including a gory beheading. Members were told that India has established nine training camps along the Afghan border, where they are training members of the Baloch Liberation Army. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx Pasha also claimed that India and the UAE (reportedly due to opposition to construction of the Gwadar port) were funding and arming the Baloch. Pasha also claimed that the Russian government was directly involved in funding/training/supporting the insurgency.
8. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx said Pasha briefed members on what he termed USG drone incursions and missile strikes. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx , Pasha praised the U.S. for its support through these methods and showed statistics to parliamentarians that demonstrated the vast majority of those killed in these attacks were either foreign fighters or Taliban. xxxxxxxxxxxx believed that the military had made a good-faith effort to portray USG activities as positive. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx Pasha barely mentioned the threat from local Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud.
9. (C) Other parliamentarians at a dinner hosted October 10 by Charge for SCA/PB Director Hartley, including Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senators Babar Awan and Enver Baig, Pakistan Muslim League Assembly member Donya Aziz, Awami National Party Senator Haji Muhammed Adeel, FATA parliamentarians Shaukat Ullah and Munir Khan Orakzai and Muttahdia Quami Movement (MQM) leader Farouq Sattar, were less impressed by Pasha's brief. They all said the brief was a good beginning, but characterized it as being largely descriptive and adding little information they did not already know. They noted that Pasha, unsurprisingly, defended Pakistan's sovereignty against U.S. incursions. They agreed that Pasha had defended Pakistan's relationship with the U.S. but did not share details from the briefing about foreign fighters killed in alleged U.S. drone attacks.
10. (C) Both the FATA parliamentarians and MQM said during the Q&A session they pointed out that not all terrorists were tribals and that the GOP needed to address growing extremism in the Punjab. They noted that Punjabis increasingly are moving to fight with militants in FATA and that there is growing Talibanization of Karachi.
11. (C) Also attending the dinner was Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Information Secretary Ahsan Iqbal. Iqbal echoed comments made publicly by PML-N Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar; both denigrated the briefing as being merely descriptive and called for the civilian government to explain its strategy to fight the militants. Nisar asked how the GOP's strategy differed from that of the former Musharraf government. Nisar told the press "It is noteworthy that no suicide attack had taken place before the country became an ally of the U.S. in the war on terror." PML-N leader Ishak Dar told the press that it was imperative that a joint session of parliament be apprised of all agreements executed with the U.S. Interestingly, Nawaz Sharif, who attended the joint session, did not comment on it publicly. Several newspaper editorials criticized the PML-N leaders for jumping the gun on their criticism before the session was complete.
12. (C) Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Fazlur Rehman at a news conference October 12 claimed his party had the vision to lead the country of the present crisis. He blamed the entire military leadership, not just former President Musharraf, and demanded they explain the agreed-upon rules of engagement with U.S./ISAF coalition forces in Afghanistan. He reiterated his view that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan was the root cause of Pakistan's problems in the tribal areas and said foreign troops must leave Afghanistan for the sake of
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peace in the region. He also said his party had serious reservations about the ongoing military operations in Bajaur.
13. (C) The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party and the Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, both of which oppose use of force in the tribal areas, boycotted the session. JI leader Qazi Hussain has this week been leading a largely ignored "train march" to protest GOP policies in the FATA.
14. (C) We expect Sherry Rehman will brief the now established GOP strategy of: (1) political engagement, but not with terrorists; (2) economic development; and (3) use of force when necessary. National Security Advisor Durrani provided Charge October 10 with a draft of the GOP's presentation to the joint body, which follows classic counter-insurgency strategy. It does say the GOP has not given the U.S. a green light to do cross-border operations, but uses that as a launching pad to attack the presence of foreign militants and their violations of Pakistani sovereignty. It goes on to call on the tribes to eject the foreigners and support the government and offers them development assistance if they come around.
15. (C) Comment: The long-promised joint session is a welcome first step in bringing Pakistan's elected leadership on board with the government's counter-terrorism strategy. The session is being extended to accommodate a great deal of pent-up opinion and emotion that has amassed over the past few years when the leadership kept parliament in the dark on security issues. The government understandably wants to keep as much of that emotion contained in a closed-door session as possible, and surprisingly little of the briefing content has been leaked to the press. At some point, however, there needs to be a public airing of views and concerns if the GOP is going to increase public acknowledgment that this is Pakistan's war.
16. (C) Comment cont'd: In other welcome developments, at least one Pakistani group (perhaps bankrolled by the owner of the bombed Marriott Hotel in Islamabad), Yeh Hum Naheen (Say No to Terrorism) has been placing newspaper and TV ads in the Urdu and English language press; the group's aim is to collect the largest number of signatures ever on an anti-terrorism petition. We understand the Information Ministry is responsible for placing other anti-terrorism ads in recent days. On October 11, Information Minister Malik spoke at an anti-terrorism seminar organized in Lahore, again as part of a long-promised outreach campaign by GOP ministers. Feierstein
<<234212>> 11/11/2009 14:13 09ISLAMABAD2716 Embassy Islamabad CONFIDENTIAL
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C o n f i d e n t i a l islamabad 002716
E.o. 12958: decl: 11/10/2034 Tags: pgov, kdem, pk Subject: interior minister seeks usg help in protecting president zardari
Classified By: ANNE W. PATTERSON, REASONS 1.4 B AND D
1. (C) Summary: In a November 9 meeting with Ambassador Patterson, Interior Minister Rehman Malik requested that the USG issue a public statement in support of Pakistani democracy. He suggested that such a statement would be useful in protecting President Asif Ali Zardari from military-induced pressure for Zardari to leave office. In addition, it would help dispel persistent charges from the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) that the United States and the United Kingdom had urged it to withdraw support for the National Reconciliation Ordinance, thereby placing Zardari at-risk. Malik assessed that Saudi Arabia and the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) were cooperating with the military and MQM to bring down President Zardari. Despite these charges, Malik was optimistic that the Supreme Court would not/not strip Zardari of his presidential immunity and suggested that even if it did, the government would simply cease prosecution of Zardari's cases, thereby allowing him to continue to hold office. End Summary.
2. (C) Interior Minister Rehman Malik met November 9 with Ambassador Patterson to provide a read-out of his meetings with senior officials of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in Dubai. Throughout the meeting, Malik was clearly nervous that the USG was distancing itself both from him and President Zardari. Malik claimed that during the course of his Dubai meetings, the MQM had repeatedly stated that both the United States and the United Kingdom had urged the party to oppose the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) -- a move that led the government to withdraw the legislation from parliamentary consideration and placed the future of President Zardari at-risk. Malik claimed that the MQM stated it had received this message during the Sindh Governor's recent trip to the United States and that Altaf Hussain had been approached by the British government in London. Ambassador strongly denied these allegations, stating that the USG had not/not had any such discussions with the Sindh Governor.
3. (C) Interior Minister Malik further expressed concern that the Secretary was displeased with the civilian government upon her return from her recent trip to Pakistan. Malik attributed this impression to rumors from unspecified sources. Ambassador emphasized to Malik that she had heard no such thing and that in contrast, she was confident that the Secretary had been very pleased both with her visit and with her meetings with Pakistan government counterparts.
4. (C) Minister Malik inquired as to whether the Ambassador was aware that the "establishment" -- local short-hand for the military and the intelligence services -- was involved in working against the NRO and for President Zardari's departure. Ambassador told Rehman that we were aware of such allegations. Minister Malik reported that the MQM had told him directly in the Dubai meetings that the military was involved, although Malik personally did not/not believe that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani was involved in the plotting. Malik also claimed that the MQM was meeting regularly with the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) and that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif was, in turn, pressuring Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to disqualify President Zardari. Malik also assessed that Saudi Arabia was working to unseat President Zardari. Malik intended to visit Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, Chief of Saudi General Intelligence, in Saudi Arabia and then travel on to London to meet with MQM Convener Altaf Hussain.
5. (C) Malik suggested that the best way to deal with military pressure would be for President Zardari to make internal changes within the military hierarchy. Malik proposed that Zardari recreate the Deputy Chief of Army Staff position and move Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Ahmad Shuja Pasha into that position in March 2010. Zardari could then commit to elevating Pasha to COAS in October 2010 on the expiration of Kayani's term. Malik suggested that Kayani could then be moved to Chairman of the Joint Staff. Comment: Malik seemed to believe that ISI DG Pasha was unilaterally behind the push to oust Zardari -- which we know is not/not the case. End Comment.
6. (C) Despite these concerns, Malik reiterated the government's line that Zardari is not in any real danger on expiration of the NRO. He asserted that the Chief Justice would not/not revoke Zardari's presidential immunity. Even if he did, Malik claimed that the Interior Minister can instruct prosecutors to dismiss charges in any court case. He shared that, in one of his own corruption cases, this had been done, and that in another case, the Supreme Court had ruled his imprisonment illegal. Malik also added that President Zardari had the ability to pardon anyone.
7. (C) Malik pressed the Ambassador for issuance of a strong statement from the United States. Ambassador inquired as to the content and the audience. Malik suggested that it be a public statement saying that the United States supported democracy in Pakistan.
8. (C) Comment: Malik was clearly worried that President Zardari and his inner circle of advisors -- including Malik -- had lost the support of the international community. Malik appeared to believe that such support was essential for their survival in the face of military plotting against them. Malik's view that ISI DG Pasha is behind the moves against President Zardari and that COAS Kayani is not involved is either naive or intentionally misleading. It would be impossible for Pasha to move without Kayani's acquiescence. Malik's views on Zardari's legal troubles presuppose that Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry will be bound by normal interpretations of the law and precedent. Such an assumption ignores Chaudhry's penchant for ignoring both in recent rulings and his personal animosity towards Asif Ali Zardari. End Comment. Patterson
Anything is possible at any time in Pakistan, be it an assassination or a military coup. But tensions have rarely been higher than on Nov. 26, 2008, when a group of extremists from the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba traveled by boat from Karachi to Mumbai and carried out simultaneous attacks at 10 different locations. It took nearly 3 days before all 10 assailants had been overpowered. A total of 175 people died, and only one attacker survived, the Pakistani Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab. "I was prepared to go to India," ISI Director-General Pasha said a few weeks later in a SPIEGEL interview at his office in Islamabad. The diplomatic dispatches to the US administration now reveal just how crucial the issue of Pasha's visit to India was during these chaotic days.
Both nuclear powers began to put their armies on alert. According to the embassy reports, then-Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee even apparently threatened Zardari over the phone with war. A military exchange between the neighboring arch-enemies threatened to spark a disaster for the entire region, which could engulf the entire world. "Both Chief of Army Staff General Kayani and President Zardari have stated flatly to Ambassador that the government of Pakistan would have no choice but to retaliate if attacked, and post has no doubt they are sincere," reads a classified US dispatch. Embassy officials wrote that the Indians were convinced that the Pakistani intelligence agency had prior knowledge of the attack and had approved it. These suspicions could not be confirmed, but it is true that the ISI has provided Lashkar-e-Taiba with massive support, and that the terror group is fighting a guerrilla war against the Indians in Kashmir.
Cooperating with a Sworn Enemy
In Islamabad, communication between the military and the civilian government had become muddled and confused. Zardari gave his army chief only cursory information about his contacts with the US, other allies and India. The main challenge was to figure out how, if at all, Pakistan could cooperate with their sworn enemy India.
ISI head Pasha said that he was prepared to share intelligence information with the Indians, after assurances from the CIA that only the Indian intelligence agency would use the information -- and that it would not be leaked to the public domain. On the other hand, nobody in Islamabad knew whether the Indians were even prepared to openly discuss what they knew with the Pakistanis. "If Pasha is embarrassed by what is essentially public dissemination without the Indians providing the results of their own investigation to Pakistan, it will undercut Pakistan's ability to pursue its investigation, generate a public backlash in Pakistan, and could undermine Pasha personally," wrote the US Embassy in Islamabad. For the time being, no exchange took place.
Amid the confused flurry of messages between the two governments, the media suddenly started reporting that Islamabad was supposedly sending Pasha to India. Then-British Foreign Minister David Miliband had been among the people who urged Pakistan to take the step, as a symbol of goodwill. In Pakistan, however, many felt that this gesture of reconciliation went too far, and the army leadership also opposed it.
Missiles in the Sandbox
Ultimately, President Zardari wanted to keep Pasha as a trump card, should the conflict with India further escalate. He told the Americans that it was "too early" for a meeting with the head of the intelligence agency: "Let the evidence come to light, let the investigation take its course. Then perhaps there is a position where the directors general could meet ... The DG (Pasha) is too senior a person to get into who overall looks into the investigation."
Shortly thereafter, Pakistani law enforcement officials arrested 124 suspects and tensions eased somewhat. The Pakistanis pressed charges against seven of those detained. But the trials of the defendants have been dragging on for a suspiciously long time. A war has been averted, but this certainly does not mean that anything has changed significantly. There is still a persistent air of mistrust on all sides. In December 2009, FBI agents informed the ISI that they had made a big catch: David Coleman Headley, an American citizen with a Pakistani father, who had scouted out targets in Mumbai on behalf of Lashkar-e-Taiba. He is believed to be one of the ring leaders behind the operation. Headley has pleaded guilty to the charges.
But the Pakistanis have never been allowed to question Headley in the US. In return, the ISI has refused to allow the Americans direct access to an alleged Headley accomplice, a former officer in the Pakistani army. All of this smacks of squabbling in the sandbox. But there are nuclear missiles in this particular sandbox.
Translated from the German by Paul Cohen
- Part 1: Unstable Pakistan Has US on Edge
- Part 2: On the Brink of War between India and Pakistan
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