The Brink of War Unstable Pakistan Has US on Edge
The US diplomatic cables provide deep insights into the true extent of Pakistan's true volatility. American Embassy dispatches show that the military and the Pakistani intelligence agency are heavily involved in the atomic power's politics -- and often work against US interests.
The instructions came directly from then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and she didn't beat around the bush. "Express Washington's strong opposition to the release of Dr. Khan and urge the Government of Pakistan to continue holding him under house arrest," Rice wrote to her ambassador, Anne Patterson, in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
It was April 2008, and the US administration was deeply concerned about reports that the man widely believed to be the biggest nuclear smuggler of all time, Pakistan's Abdul Qadir Khan, could soon be a free man. Khan had allegedly supported North Korea, Iran and Libya in their nuclear programs by supplying them with plans and centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Although the Americans had exposed his proliferation ring back in 2004, and the nuclear scientist had confessed, probably under pressure from the government, Khan was never indicted or convicted in Pakistan, but merely placed under house arrest.
Ambassador Patterson, a resolute 59-year-old from Arkansas, immediately went into action. Her key contact was the head of the army's Strategic Plans Division, Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, who was responsible for the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Kidwai had previously made sure that Khan was unable to do any further damage. Patterson also spoke with then-President Pervez Musharraf, who assured the US ambassador that there was nothing to worry about: "He will not be released."
Kidwai, however, saw complications: "His legal status was that he was a free man. ... If he tried to walk out today, ... the government of Pakistan had no legal grounds to stop him."
Appeasing the Americans
On Feb. 6, 2009, a court rescinded Khan's house arrest, effective immediately. The news caught the new president, Asif Ali Zardari, completely off guard. Ambassador Patterson, for her part, was incensed over the "persistent lack of coordination" of the government in Islamabad. In response to her protest, however, Zardari and his interior minister guaranteed her that they would try to "establish a legal basis for Khan's detention."
That is exactly what they did. Today, Khan is once again cut off from the rest of the world. He is fighting a renewed legal battle in the courts against his house arrest -- a state of affairs whose main purpose is to appease the Americans.
<<149456>> 4/10/2008 22:26 08STATE37957 Secretary of State SECRET
VZCZCXYZ0011 OO RUEHWEB
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,
Islamabad 00003248 002 of 003
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
Islamabad 00003248 003 of 003
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
TED0542 ACTION SCA-00
INFO LOG-00 AF-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 INL-00 PERC-00 PDI-00 DS-00 EUR-00 E-00 FBIE-00 VCI-00 H-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 L-00 MOFM-00 MOF-00 VCIE-00 NSAE-00 ISN-00 NIMA-00 GIWI-00 ISNE-00 FMPC-00 SP-00 SSO-00 SS-00 SCRS-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 FA-00 SRAP-00 SWCI-00 PESU-00 SRMC-00 SANA-00 /000W ------------------D6CDB4 111521Z /38 O 111413Z NOV 09 FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5896 INFO AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI AMEMBASSY KABUL AMEMBASSY LONDON AMCONSUL LAHORE AMCONSUL KARACHI AMCONSUL PESHAWAR NSC WASHINGTON DC CIA WASHINGTON DC SECDEF WASHINGTON DC JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, PK SUBJECT: INTERIOR MINISTER SEEKS USG HELP IN PROTECTING
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
The Pakistanis' sophisticated nuclear program is one of the main reasons why the US continues to increase its involvement in the region. The Americans know how unstable the country is, and how weak the government is. They also reveal how the Pakistani military and intelligence agency play the political game according to their own rules.
Hundreds of the diplomatic protocols deal exclusively with the threat posed by the nuclear weapons that the US's unstable ally has in its possession. "Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in government of Pakistan facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon," reads one dispatch sent by the embassy in Islamabad to Richard Holbrooke, the US's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Taking Pakistan's Nukes
The Americans would prefer to have complete control over the Pakistani nuclear arsenal but, as the reports show, they are a long way from achieving this goal. During his visit, Holbrooke merely received a briefing on the "physical, personnel and command and control safeguards for Pakistan's nuclear weapons." The security technology at the nuclear facilities was significantly improved with help from the US. Nevertheless, the Pakistanis firmly reject any further involvement on the part of the Americans.
For instance, they oppose the plan for "fuel removal" to the US. The Americans supplied these elements for use in a research reactor a number of years ago. The man responsible for this decision, the director for disarmament in the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, justified the endless delays by saying "if the local media got word of the fuel removal, 'they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons.'"
These nuclear warheads are located in a country where it is unclear who stands on which side. To make matters worse, it's hard to determine exactly what role the country's notorious intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), plays in Pakistan. It's rare that anyone expresses themselves as clearly as John Dister of the National Intelligence Council, a think tank for the US intelligence agencies. "When the ISI supports the Taliban, one can assume it is acting on government of Pakistan orders," Dister is quoted as telling NATO allies in early 2008, at a time when President Musharraf was still governing. According to the dispatch, Dister "noted the huge anxiety in Pakistan leadership circles that US/NATO will pull out of Afghanistan in the near future, leaving chaos, thus causing the ISI to maintain links with Taliban as a hedge." Dister added that Pakistan's intelligence community is also motivated by fears that India may become more actively involved in Afghanistan.
Relations between Pakistan and the US are a constant rollercoaster ride, full of tensions and an endless tug-of-war over concessions, military operations and opposing notions of strategies. US senators, top military brass and US special envoy Richard Holbrooke make a steady stream of visits to Islamabad. Because of the billions of dollars in military aid that it gives to Pakistan, the US reserves the right to intervene in the country's security issues, up to and including decisions about key positions.
'Out of Control'
"We have learned since 9/11 that Pakistan responds, periodically, to US pressure on counter-terrorism; we should continue to press for action on specific agenda items." This was the advice issued by Ambassador Patterson during the summer of 2008, in the run-up to a visit to the US by the new Pakistani prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Patterson listed all the things that the US chief of staff and the deputy head of the CIA achieved during a recent visit to Islamabad, which included the Pakistani authorities "arresting several Taliban shura members in Quetta" and "initiating an Army operation in North Waziristan." She also wrote that "we expect they will allow another B-300 surveillance aircraft to operate."
But the diplomat was also frustrated over all the things that had failed: "The government of Pakistan has not targeted Siraj Haqqani or his network; nor have they arrested Commander Nazir or Gulbaddin Hekmatyar. These militants are responsible for much of the 40 percent increase in cross-border attacks on our troops in Afghanistan this year." And although President Musharraf had acknowledged that "elements of ISI may be out of control," he remained "reluctant to replace ISI Director Nadeem Taj," she wrote.
Shortly after Musharraf's resignation as president in August 2008, however, the Pakistani Army's then-head of military operations, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, was appointed as the new director-general of the ISI. Pasha is an experienced commander who has conducted numerous operations in the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan. In comparison to Taj, he has a reputation for being a cosmopolitan man who speaks not only English but also German; years ago, Pasha attended a number of courses at the Bundeswehr's military academy in Hamburg.
The Pakistani government and the army regularly protest against the US use of drones in the tribal areas along the border to Afghanistan. The attacks, they say, violate Pakistani sovereignty and cause an increasing number of civilian deaths. In the dispatches from the US Embassy in Islamabad, however, the Pakistanis are much less harsh in their critique.
ISI head Pasha praised the weapons in comments to members of the Pakistani parliament. "The vast majority of those killed in drone attacks," he said, "were foreign fighters or Taliban."
- Part 1: Unstable Pakistan Has US on Edge
- Part 2: On the Brink of War between India and Pakistan