2011-02-21 #Pakistan: war and corruption (cable analysis)

Aside from its own political and ideological conflicts, in 2004 Pakistan saw itself obligated to join a task force with the U.S. to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups in its northern region. This created a relationship of mutual interests between the Pakistani political elite and U.S. military interests on the region - generally characterized by the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders. This agreement seemed to complicate problems that already existed in Pakistan, mostly corruption in every sense, and a reliance on U.S. support also was originated. Based on leaked cables of U.S. Diplomacy, we selected some cases where this co-dependence shows its weaknesses and incapabilities to establish an honest and democratic Pakistan.


Since 2004, the U.S. has been using drones (no tripulation aerial vehicles) to attack areas in Northern Pakistan with the official purpose of a War on Terrorism, aimed to defeat Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups. The drones have become a weapon of choice for the United States in the fight in Pakistan. Although it begun during the Bush administration, the “drone war” is still active in Obama´s government. Despite officially condemning this kind of tactic, the cables reveal that in a meeting in 2009, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Gilani “thanked the U.S. Senate for its support of his country's democracy”, however, in the same document, Gilani added that “drone strikes not only violated Pakistani sovereignty, but also fed anti-U.S. sentiment, making harder his own public case that the struggle against extremists was "Pakistan's war." Instead, there was popular pressure on elected officials like himself to forcefully respond to alleged U.S. border incursions, which were "an embarrassment" for the GOP”. But this public ‘embarrassment’ has its solution, since “he believed he could effectively convince the public that those targeted were responsible for Benazir Bhutto's assassination and the killing of innocents at schools, shopping centers and police stations” – facts which are impossible to confirm, as Benazir´s (ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan) murder and the death of innocent people are still very murky. (08ISLAMABAD3586).

In a meeting also held in 2009, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik asked U.S. Ambassador to hold off the drone attacks till the Bajaur operation got finished. But Prime Minister Gilano “brushed aside Rehman’s remark” and said "I don´t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We,ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it". In the same cable we have a remark about how these attacks were portrayed in the media: “(Note: The strike has been front page news, but the media is reporting that the targets were nests of Arab fighters.)”. (08ISLAMABAD2802).


On February 25, 2009, Pakistan’s Supreme Court sentenced the brothers Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif, political leaders of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League, to be ineligible to work in public affairs. President Zardari, in the period, appointed Salmaan Taseer, member of situation Pakistan Peoples Party – which was led by Benazir Bhutto until her death and has President Asif Ali Zardari as chairman.

“Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif told Principal Officer Lahore [Ms. Carmela Conroy assumed charge as Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, on August 27, 2009] that the decision, which they claimed was entirely Zardari's, was a declaration of war; they would not seek legal appeals and instead would take their battle to the streets. In a press conference, Nawaz revealed that Zardari had offered to drop the case in exchange for PML-N agreement to extend the tenure of the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; he called on Pakistanis to come out into the streets to protest”.

According to Charge d'Affaires Gerald Feierstein to Pakistan, “The decision [came] as no surprise; Zardari has been telling us for weeks that it was coming and that he felt he could control the reaction. Before making this move, he coaxed the Muttahida Quami Movement party into the coalition to renew Gilani's majority in the National Assembly (Ref B). He also successfully sealed a power sharing deal in three of the four provinces over seats in the upcoming Senate elections (Ref A) to ensure the PPP will have a majority in the Senate.” (09ISLAMABAD415).

The relationship between Zardari and U.S. Ambassy was expresed 21 days before the sentence. On February 4, Feierstein had already cleared out on his scenesetter for Special Envoy Holbrooke [In January 2009, Richard Holbrooke was appointed as a special adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan]: "(...) you will find Zardari is pro-American and anti-extremist; we believe he is our best ally in the government. Clearly, Zardari runs the show, and Gilani has at times chafed at public acknowledgment of this fact. We believe, however, that reports of Zardari-Gilani tensions are exaggerated; Gilani knows his place and will tow Zardari's line". (09ISLAMABAD236).


In September 2009 the Pakistani Embassy reported a “growing body of evidence is lending credence to allegations of human rights abuses by Pakistan security forces during domestic operations against terrorists in Malakand Division and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas”. The abuses were being committed in the same areas U.S. developed massive missile attacks since 2004, the battleground of “Drone War”, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border in Northwest Pakistan. It is not possible to entirely guilt Pakistani Army of those crimes as we can not forget U.S. participation on the same conflict.

In the same report Anne Woods Patterson, then Ambassor to Pakistan, said "The allegations of extra-judicial killings generally do not/not extend to what are locally referred to as "the disappeared" .Although her advice to U.S. diplomatic corps was to "Continue to privately raise this issue repeatedly and at the highest levels of the Pakistan government and military", on a worldwide level there was no register of communication on those issues with international community. (09ISLAMABAD2185).

"Pakistan hedges its bets on cooperation because it fears the U.S. will again desert Islamabad after we get Osama Bin Laden; Washington sees this hesitancy as duplicity that requires we take unilateral action to protect U.S. interests. (...) The relationship [between U.S. and Pakistan] is one of co-dependency we grudgingly admit--Pakistan knows the U.S. cannot afford to walk away; the U.S. knows Pakistan cannot survive without our support", resumed the Ambassador on 21 February, 2009. (09ISLAMABAD385)