Friday, December 3, 2010

Wikileaks Disclosures Expose Pakistani Leaders' Disdain for Democracy

The latest batch of revelations by wikileaks website about Pakistan paints a picture of a country where the self-serving political and military elites heavily rely on foreign governments for support, and confide their most private thoughts more to the American ambassador in Islamabad than their own colleagues and the people to whom they supposedly owe their allegiance. This harsh reality shows in many diplomatic cables about Pakistan leaked by wikileaks to date, and it brings a great deal of despair and frustration to a people in dire need of good leadership to effectively lead the nation as it faces multiple national crises of economy, energy and security.

The leaked cables from the US embassy show that Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari thanked the United States government for forcing former President Musharraf to pardon him and his colleagues, thus enabling them to gain power. Another leaked document reveals that the JUI President Maulana Fazlur Rehman sought US help to become prime minister of Pakistan. The Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani is reported to have confided in US officials that he seriously considered replacing Zardari as president with ANP leader Asfandyar Wali, and Zardari reportedly talked with the US officials about his fears of assassination, and his wish for his sister Faryal Talpur to succeed him as Pakistan's president.

In one of the leaked documents, Saudi King Abdullah is quoted as saying about Zardari that "when the head is rotten, it affects the whole body". The King goes on to describe Mr. Zardari as the "greatest obstacle" to Pakistan's progress.

Not only do I fully agree with the Saudi king's characterization of Zardari as the "greatest obstacle" to Pakistan's progress, I would extend it to include Pakistan's entire political class, including Zardari's coalition partners and Nawaz Sharif's PML reportedly favored by the Saudi king.

Noam Chomsky has recently reacted to the latest disclosures by wikileaks website by describing the ruling elite's penchant for secrecy as follows:

"One of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population...[The WikiLeaks cables reveal a] profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership."

I think Chomsky's assessment has much greater applicability to democracy in Pakistan than many democratic governments elsewhere in South Asia and the rest of the world.

The fresh wikileaks revelations about Pakistani leaders' duplicity will further add to the widespread conspiracy theories and breed greater cynicism about politics among Pakistanis. As the current crop of politicians are thoroughly discredited, my hope is that a new generation of leaders will emerge from the current chaos to lead Pakistan out of the prevailing depths of despair.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption

NRO and Corrupt Democracies of South Asia

Pakistan's Decade of 1999-2009 in Review

ASEAN Architect Suharto Passes On

NRO and Corrupt Democracies in South Asia

Malaysia National Front Suffers Setback

Musharaf's Economic Legacy

Pakistan's Corruption Indexes

Return to Bad Old Days in Pakistan

Shaukat Aziz's Economic Legacy

Daily Carnage in Pakistan


Anonymous said...

Not only do I fully agree with the Saudi King's charaterization of Zardari as the "greatest obstacle" to Pakistan's progress, I would extend it to include Pakistan's entire political class, including Zardari's coalition partners and Nawaz Sharif's PML reportedly favored by the Saudi King.

Ironical that you cricize pakistani rulers for being US puppets at the expense of their own people and then quote a member of the house of Saud member the current king of S Arabia who has auctioned his country to US interests right since its foundation as SAUDI arabia....

India thankfully at a political class level for all its corruption,dynastic politics and cronyism has NEVER invited a foreign power in its internal political affairs.

Anonymous said...

my hope is that a new generation of leaders will emerge from the current chaos to lead Pakistan out of the prevailing depths of despair.

Unlikely the political class of Pakistan is overwhelmingly from a feudal background and all modernizers of nations are WITHOUT EXCEPTION from the middle class as this class does not have any interest in preserving the status quo.

Even in India the political class/bureaucracy is mostly middle/lower class background there are only a handful of competent leaders...

Unknown said...

I have been following your musings for a few weeks. I really like your indepth analysis on social and political developments of south asia especially India and Pakistan. These wikileaks have indeed put the governing class in a spot of bother.One thing i must share with you that its very difficult to understand the kind of society that is Pakistan's.It's quiet shizophrenic. the few political families which have ruled pakistan for such a long period are quiet adept in fooling the masses around non issues.

The things which have been leaked in the tapes are known to the world about pakistan. I don't know about the pakistani citizens.

satwa gunam said...


I think, it is unfair on the part of general public to blame only the politicians.

It is when the people of the country get corrupt completely the country goes for a toss.

This remains me of the fable story which i read when i was small. A king asked all his subject to pour a cup of milk in the pond in the night. Everybody thought the others will pour milk and hence they poured water. Finally what was seen there was pure water.

So if a few percentage of people would have been honest at least the water would have the light shades of milk colour

This applies to countries. Today what is happening in usa and european countries are nothing but the people have reached the highest of dishonesty. Best example is the housing bubble, every american purchase house which he cannot afford and thought that he can give up the house in case the house value is less which wiped out the bank's and in which turn affected the depositors which are once again public who saved money

Anonymous said...

I think that is something to do with how Indian society is a much more nationalistic society than Pakistan i.e the Indian public can forgive corruption,inefficieny, incompetenceetc etc but NOT treason.

Anyone perceived to be acting against the interests of India in consort with a foreign power is invariably eliminated by India's institutional mechanism.

Anonymous said...

PAkistani elite has always been an incompetent trecherous bunch.

They are the descendants of the feudals who sided with the British against the Indian masses(incl what is todays pakistan).They owe their existence ultimately on the betrayal of the common man.Can you really expect this class to NOT betray their country for money from a foreign power.

Luckily India smashed this class in the 1950s itself but Pakistan allowed it to grow into a life threatning tumor..

Mayraj said...

Wikileaks: the truth is not treason

Anonymous said...

banana republic. explains U.S. officials' contempt toward country. Competent leadership would have extracted meaningful strategic/trade concession given stakes for U.S. in Afghanistan. Instead U.S. is busy rewarding India knowing it has leverage with Zardari/Sharif/Kayani.

Anonymous said...

Very true...Not just this time.
Even in the 1980s it could have extracted massive S korea style concessions but instead was very happy just to receive a few F-16s for its efforts and things like increased textiles quota.

Instead look at the way the India is milking the west using the 'Bulwark against China','world's largest democracy' card...LOL and the funny thing is on ground it has conceeded ziltch...

Husaini said...


You are so right about the existing situation in Pakistan.

However, I don't know what gives you hope.

Riaz Haq said...

Husaini: "I don't know what gives you hope."

"Sunlight is the best disinfectant" is how US Supreme Court's Justice Louis Brandeis described the glare of the media spotlight on political and government corruption almost a century ago.

The strong reaction of common Pakistanis led by the unrestrained mass media against the venality of Pakistani leadership is shinining plenty of sunshine on the conduct of Pakistani leaders.

I see this as a good sign which I hope will shame some of the current leaders into better behavior, and warn other future leaders against such conduct.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Competent leadership would have extracted meaningful strategic/trade concession given stakes for U.S. in Afghanistan. Instead U.S. is busy rewarding India knowing it has leverage with Zardari/Sharif/Kayani."

I agree!

Pakistan holds most of the cards in the US War on Terror.

Without Pakistan's help, the US would be unable to sustain its military presence for even a short period of time, much less fight the Taliban or Al Quaida in the region. A few days of NATO supply route closure by Pakistan earlier this year clearly illustrated this absolute US dependence on Pakistan.

A few billion dollars Pakistan has received from US in return is a very tiny fraction of what the US is spending in Afghanistan, and the US actions (with the support of self-serving Pak leaders) have seriously divided and destabilized Pakistan and badly hurt its ability to grow its economy toward self-sufficiency, espcially in the last two years.

Longer term, Pakistan's geostrategic location gives it huge advatanges as an energy and trade transit route for the landlocked but resource rich central Asian nations. Whether or not Pakistan can leverage its location to serve its people depends largely on the competence and honesty of the leadership in Islamabad.

Anonymous said...

Longer term, Pakistan's geostrategic location gives it huge advatanges as an energy and trade transit route for the landlocked but resource rich central Asian nations. Whether or not Pakistan can leverage its location to serve its people depends largely on the competence and honesty of the leadership in Islamabad.

Don't bet on it all new pipelines from central asia are going either to China(Direct overland) or to Russia(and onward into the EU via its new pipelines)...Building a pipeline through afghanistan and pakistan with large bands of violent lunatics is a foolhardy proposition.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Don't bet on it all new pipelines from central asia are going either to China(Direct overland) or to Russia(and onward into the EU via its new pipelines)...Building a pipeline through afghanistan and pakistan with large bands of violent lunatics is a foolhardy proposition."

This is probably true now, but I don't expect this situation to last forever. Turkey and Russia have been the main beneficiaries of problems in Afghanistan, but the Europeans resent such dependence on them for their energy needs.

As to the Chinese, they are clearly interested in Pakistan's coastline and landroute to supply Western China region. Their projects along Karakoram, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan confirm their long term interest in Pakistan.

Besides, South Asia itself is a huge market for oil, gas and various other natural resources, minerals and commodities and Pakistan represents the best and the cheapest route for delivering these.

Anonymous said...

'Besides, South Asia itself is a huge market for oil, gas and various other natural resources, minerals and commodities and Pakistan represents the best and the cheapest route for delivering these.'

By S Asia i presume you mean India with its 15% pa industrial growth rate..

The shortest route for oil and gas is GCC to India via super tanker.Saudi Arabia can actually deliver 2X as much oil to India than US as a tanker can make 2 trips....

As for PAkistan the only economically viable transport route to India is persian gas BUT due to record gas finds offshore India is now gas surplus so...

'This is probably true now, but I don't expect this situation to last forever.'

really? When do you expect Afghanistan to be stable enough for this kind of mega investment??The Taliban(albeit renamed) are likely to get power under the best case scenario(wrt Pakistan).You expect companies like Exxon.Petrochina etc to spend $$$ building pipelines on Taliban territory????

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "You expect companies like Exxon.Petrochina etc to spend $$$ building pipelines on Taliban territory???? "

Yes, I do. Argentina's Bridas and US Unocal (with American blessing) were competing to build such a pipeline when the bidding process was interrupted by 911 terror attacks.

And China is already a big investor in Afghanistan working on a multi-billion dollar Aynak copper field.

Imran Q said...

From atop the firs and pines the doves have flown away,
The floral petals lie scattered all along the way.

Desolate lie the garden paths, once dressed and neat,
Leafless hang the branches on the naked trees.

The nightingale is unconcerned with the season's range,
Would that someone in the grove appreciates her wail.

Iqbal’s Shikwa.... The same sentiment is so relevant these days...


Unknown said...

just wanted to say you that i have posted a reaction of your post on my blog'' sociosphere''

and given a link of your blog as well. feel free to inform me if you have any problem.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters report of wikileaks on India:

The Cold Start is a much vaunted doctrine to rebuff any Pakistani aggression by a massive military attack across the border within 72 hours of any attack from its neighbour.

After India and the U.S. were spared any serious embarrassment in the first two days of WikiLeak’s staggered release of secret U.S. cables, save an outspoken remark from Hillary Clinton about India’s inflated global ambitions, the secret cable from U.S. Ambassador Tim Roemer states that it is unlikely that India would ever enact the planned retribution strategy, and the chances of success would be questionable if so, in a cutting critique of New Delhi’s military might.

The February 16, 2010 cable from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, classified by Roemer and released by WikiLeaks, describes India’s ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ as “a mixture of myth and reality.”

“The GOI (Government of India) refrained from implementing Cold Start even after an attack as audacious and bloody as the Mumbai attack, which calls into serious question the GOI’s willingness to actually adopt the Cold Start option,” Roemer states.

But in perhaps the most damning of remarks regarding its effectiveness, even purely as a deterrent, Roemer states that Pakistan appears to be unfazed by Cold Start’s potential application:

“The Pakistanis have known about Cold Start since 2004, but this knowledge does not seem to have prompted them to prevent terror attacks against India to extent such attacks could be controlled. This fact calls into question Cold Start’s ability to deter Pakistani mischief inside India. Even more so, it calls into question the degree of sincerity of fear over Cold Start as expressed by Pakistani military leaders to USG (United States Government) officials.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India story from another leaked document about India's pursuit of UN Security Council permanent seat:

New Delhi . The latest wave of WikiLeaks threatens to affect Indo-US ties, with the startling disclosure that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called India a ‘self appointed’ UNSC front-runner and ordered spying of the country’s bid to become a permanent member of the body.

The US had forewarned India about the latest rash of leaks, observing that they may harm American interests and create tension in its ties with its ‘friends.’ And now that the leaks are out, there are fears in the foreign policy establishment here that the disclosures, which cover 2006-2010, may have damaging information on the Indo-US nuclear deal too.

In a cable dealing with UNSC expansion, the US State Department reportedly asked its diplomats to collect details about the bids of ‘self-appointed front-runners’ for the permanent seat of UNSC. The cables have not yet been officially released and pre-date President Barack Obama’s announcement of US support to India’s UNSC bid during his address to parliament on November 8.

Wikileaks has in its possession more than 3,000 cables coming out of the US Embassy in New Delhi. The government is now bracing for more devastating revelations.

Ms Clinton had sent a cable to American embassies and missions around the world in 2009, ostensibly directing the diplomats to be part of the intelligence, according to classified documents made public by the whistle-blower website.

The 8,358-word National Humint Collection Directive (Humint being Human Intelligence) ``reflects the results of a recent Washington review of reporting and collection needs focused on the United Nations ,’’ the documents say.

The information Ms Clinton directed the diplomats to ascertain ranged from basic biographical data such as diplomats' names and addresses to their frequent flier and credit card numbers, to even ``biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats.’’ Typical biometric information includes fingerprints, signatures and iris recognition.

The cable, simply signed ‘Clinton’, is classified S/NF - or ‘Secret/No Foreign’ - and was sent to 33 US embassies and the UN mission offices in New York, Vienna and Rome.

It asked officers overseas to gather information about “office and organisational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cellphones, pagers and faxes,’’ as well as “internet and intranet handles, internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent-flier account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information,’’ revealed the leaked documents.

In a Twitter posting, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, in the meanwhile, denied that American diplomats were doing double duty as intelligence gatherers.

“Contrary to some WikiLeaks' reporting, our diplomats are diplomats. They are not intelligence assets,’’ the tweet attributed to him said. He downplayed the cable's significance by writing in a separate tweet: ``Diplomats collect information that shapes our policies and actions. Diplomats for all nations do the same thing.’’

The White House said cables are candid reports by diplomats and can give an incomplete picture of the relationship between the United States and foreign governments. The cables are not expressions of policy, nor do they always shape final policy decisions, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Anonymous said...


Yup that and ship based power plants from turkey...powered by furnace solve its power problems:)

Incidentally I work in ABB,India we had a visitor recently from ABB Pakistan..Apparently the pakistani goverment in its infinite wisdom has privatized power production BUT not distribution where the most leakages are.

The result is if he is to be believed the private plant producers have formed a cartel to create artificial scarcity by NOT investing in new capacity in a timely fashion and milking the state by charging weepingly high prices during the demand supply mismatch...apparently the power ministry officals get a cut to simply wring their hands but practically do nothing but 'stuntbazi' like rental powerplants(another scam) or getting power ships from turkey which supplies power at 4 times the price...

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Apparently the pakistani goverment in its infinite wisdom has privatized power production BUT not distribution where the most leakages are."

Your info is not accurate. KESC that distributes power in Karachi is a private company, as are many other local dist cos.

anon: "The result is if he is to be believed the private plant producers have formed a cartel to create artificial scarcity by NOT investing in new capacity in a timely fashion and milking the state by charging weepingly high prices during the demand supply mismatch...apparently the power ministry officals get a cut to simply wring their hands "

There is corruption but the biggest problems of under-utilized power generation capacity are related to widespread pilferage, non-payment of bills, circular debt and high-cost of power generation because of high oil prices..which are much higher than when these plants were built in 1980s and 1990s. This situation has worsened specially since 2008.

Anonymous said...


Apparently the imf is pressurizing pakistan to further devalue the PKR to make its exports more competetive...

Gotta love the IMF...Thank god when we very briefly fell into their clutches we mortgaged our gold and paid it off...

They had suggestions like shutting down IITs and ISRO!!! as a developing country in their not so humble opinion shouldn't dabble in advanced tech and space and should stick to producing low end goods where the comparative advantage lies!!!LOL!!!

anoop said...

No one seems to get the big picture. Saudi Monarch has bitched about an elected representative from Pakistan. Zardari is honest or dishonest is another matter.

I've not heard many people from Pakistan question the Saudi Monarch.

When you compare Zardari and Saudi Arabia, the latter has done more harm by exporting its militant,hardline ideology and building mosques and madrassas that propagate this ideology. It has increased militancy in Pakistan. Zardari has just made truckloads of money.

But, people in Pakistan are so blinded by the brotherly brothers in SA, no one seems to mind this humiliating comment against Pakistan.

Anonymous said...


Absolutely right!!!

Saud family has made 1000X what zardari has made.I mean they renamed a cuntry with 250bn barrels of oil as 'SAUDI' arabia...

They have also completely sold out to Anglos.

But Zardari gets mocked everyday in PAkistan whereas in the last bastion of absolute monarchy the king can do no wrong and you are liable to loose your head(literally) if you dare raise uncomfortable questions in the popular press

Riaz Haq said...

Are Pakistani Talian supported by India? UAE Security officials believe so, according to Wikileaks as reported by Deccan Herald.

UAE's security officials believed that India along with Iran had supported the Pakistani Taliban and Pushtun separatists, even as US suggested that UAE was a source of funding for the militants, a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks discloses.

The strange allegation by UAE officials is noted in a State Department cable, which reports the details of a meeting between officials of the US treasury department and those of UAE's State Security Department (SSD) and Dubai's general department of state security (GDSS) to discuss suspected Taliban-related financial activity in the UAE.

The meeting, spread over several hours on December 15-16, 2009. In the meeting, GDSS officials noted Iran's support to Taliban in Pakistan, adding that it believes that India also has supported Pakistani Taliban and Pashtun separatists.

The meeting from the US side was represented by Treasury Department Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Howard Mendelsohn.

Mendelsohn also raised Afghanistan and Pakistan-based extremist and terrorist groups, to include Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and Jamaat al-Dawa al-Quran wa al-Sunna (JDQ), according to the cable.

Riaz Haq said...

I find nothing strange about UAE security officials' belief that India is supporting TTP attacks in Pakistan, as reported by Deccan Herald.

There are strong indications that the Indian security and intelligence establishment are engaged in covert war in Pakistan that they have been planning for two year. The Indian officials have been seething since 2008 because of their inability to "punish" Pakistan following the Mumbai terrorist attacks that they blamed on Pakistan. They shelved the idea of lightning air strikes strategy dubbed "Cold Start" against Pakistan for fear of sparking a major war. But they have continued to talk about covert actions by Indian agents to destabilize and balkanize Pakistan. Former RAW chief B. Raman has argued that India appoint a covert ops specialist as the new head of RAW. He said in December 2008 that “at this critical time in the nation’s history, RAW has no covert action specialists at the top of its pyramid. Get a suitable officer from the IB or the Army. If necessary, make him the head of the organization.”

Vikram Sood, another former top spy in India, has elaborated on India's covert warfare options to target Pakistan in the following words: "Covert action can be of various kinds. One is the paramilitary option, which is what the Pakistanis have been using against us. It is meant to hurt, destabilize or retaliate. The second is the psychological war option, which is a very potent and unseen force. It is an all weather option and constitutes essentially changing perceptions of friends and foes alike. The media is a favorite instrument, provided it is not left to the bureaucrats because then we will end up with some clumsy and implausible propaganda effort. More than the electronic and print media, it is now the internet and YouTube that can be the next-generation weapons of psychological war. Terrorists use these liberally and so should those required to counter terrorism."

S.M. Mushrif, former Police Chief of Maharashtra and the author of "Who Killed Karkare?", believes that the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) is up to its neck in conspiring with the extreme Hindutva groups against Indian Muslims and creating trouble between India and Pakistan, and now it is ominous to see one of the former IB leaders K.C. Verma heading RAW as of 2009.

The power establishment that really runs the affairs of India (Mushrif says it is not Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi) does not want to expose the rabidly anti-Muslim Hindutva terrorists.

Anonymous said...

The power establishment that really runs the affairs of India (Mushrif says it is not Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi) does not want to expose the rabidly anti-Muslim Hindutva terrorists.

Riaz you need to come up with a bit more credible evidence for an allegation like that than ONE SINGLE sensationalist author looking for higher sales for a middling book.

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories of cliques comprising power elite who run the US,Russia,China...practically all important countries and that democracy is actually little more than a pressure handling mechanism giving people who are misinformed and manipulated by the media into believing that the really have a say in government when infact they don't.How all parties in all democracies are ultimately funded by the same capital etc etc etc

BUT as exciting as these theories are there is little concrete evidence to support such allegations...

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "BUT as exciting as these theories are there is little concrete evidence to support such allegations... "

I think you live in a fools' paradise if you deny the existence and the strong influence of self-serving power elites in most democracies...particularly the Indian democracy where three quarters of the people live on less than $2 a day (vs 60% in Pakistan) and two-thirds of Indians still defecate in the open (vs one-third of Pakistanis) while the number of billionaires is second only to the United States.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of an interesting analysis of impact of wikileaks on US-Pakisan relations as written by an Indian-American analyst working for pro-Israel and pro-India CFR in Washington:

The release of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables (NYT) by has further shaken Washington's already strained relations with Pakistan, a strategic ally central to any success in Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism. The cables discuss U.S. concerns over Pakistan's continued support for certain militant groups, its nuclear program, the country's fragile civil-military relations, human rights abuses by Pakistan's security services, and more. Pakistani media has been covering the cable leaks extensively, and some stories have further fueled anti-U.S. sentiment (Reuters), with Pakistan's right-wing Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami staging a rally Dec. 5 to protest Pakistan's alliance (AFP) with the United States.
Both U.S. and Pakistani officials have rushed to minimize damage over the leaks. A spokesperson for Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Zardari had agreed not to let (CNN) the cable leaks "cast a shadow on the strategic partnership" between their countries. But as the cables highlight, the U.S.-Pakistan relations is fraught with lack of trust and shared goals. "That should raise fresh doubts (Newsweek) about the prospects for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, given that Pakistan provides sanctuary for the Taliban and other groups hostile to our purposes," writes CFR President Richard N. Haass, adding: "Little in these cables suggest this support will end any time soon."
Analysts fear the cable leaks have also made more difficult information gathering by U.S. officials and diplomats on the ground, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, in an op-ed in the Pakistani newspaper The News, attempted to assuage concerns by saying Washington was taking steps to prevent any future breach of diplomatic communications. A bigger fallout from the WikiLeaks, says CFR's Pakistan expert Daniel Markey, is that it "may have permanently killed small U.S. nonproliferatio n and counterterror programs" in Pakistan "by unveiling U.S. efforts to reclaim enriched uranium from an aging Pakistani research reactor and by offering details on how U.S. Special Forces have been embedded in Pakistan's own military operations."
The cables also might jeopardize recent progress made in U.S.-Pakistan military cooperation. Last month, the Pentagon in its report to Congress (PDF), unveiled its plan to build a new facility to house U.S. military officials in the Pakistani city of Quetta, in Balochistan. This is significant given U.S. fears that Quetta is the headquarters for the Afghan Taliban's top leadership and Washington's concerns over Pakistani army's unwillingness to break ties with the group. The Pentagon plan is already facing a backlash (ForeignPolicy) in Pakistan, and the cables may help strengthen the opposition to it.

Saad said...

So you write the usual, just because the wikileaks said it again?! Ahy how two observations,

1: Fine we get rid of the current ones, but then who comes in? Another corrupt general, about whose corruption you can't write, talk or speak up let alone vote him out?!

2: Why is the criticism of the non-political ruling elite and their ten times shameful performances in wikileaks fail to find a place in your criticism? Perhaps you missed out on the part where Saudi interior minister quoted a certain institution of Pakistan the main problem.

Riaz Haq said...

saad: "Why is the criticism of the non-political ruling elite and their ten times shameful performances in wikileaks fail to find a place in your criticism? "

You have either not read or not understood the post. Let me bring your attention to the following part of my post in the very first paragraph:

"The latest batch of revelations by wikileaks website about Pakistan paints a picture of a country where the self-serving political and military elites heavily rely on foreign governments for support, and confide their most private thoughts more to the American ambassador in Islamabad than their own colleagues and the people to whom they supposedly owe their allegiance."

saad: "Fine we get rid of the current ones, but then who comes in? Another corrupt general, about whose corruption you can't write, talk or speak up let alone vote him out?!"

In terms of governance and economy, the history tells us that Zardari and Sharif are worse than any one else. They gave us the lost decade of the 1990s, and now the current mess since 2008.

Pakistani economy grew at a fairly impressive rate of 6 percent per year through the first four decades of the nation's existence. In spite of rapid population growth during this period, per capita incomes doubled, inflation remained low and poverty declined from 46% down to 18% by late 1980s, according to eminent Pakistani economist Dr. Ishrat Husain. This healthy economic performance was maintained through several wars and successive civilian and military governments in 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s until the decade of 1990s, now appropriately remembered as the lost decade.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some of my thoughts on WikiLeaks:

First, only a few hundred of over 250,000 leaked documents have been reported so far.

Second, these documents have been heavily redacted and filtered by the editors at NY Times and Guardian...the two main conduits used by WikiLeaks.

That is why you see very little damaging info about UK, India and Israel...and other close US allies and these newspapers editors' favorites.

The US and UK have tried very hard and have at least partially succeeded in preventing the release of raw, unfiltered, unredacted documents.

Here is how NY Times explains its editorial policy on publishing WikiLeaks documents:

The Times has taken care to exclude, in its articles and in supplementary material, in print and online, information that would endanger confidential informants or compromise national security. The Times’s redactions were shared with other news organizations and communicated to WikiLeaks, in the hope that they would similarly edit the documents they planned to post online.

After its own redactions, The Times sent Obama administration officials the cables it planned to post and invited them to challenge publication of any information that, in the official view, would harm the national interest. After reviewing the cables, the officials — while making clear they condemn the publication of secret material — suggested additional redactions. The Times agreed to some, but not all. The Times is forwarding the administration’ s concerns to other news organizations and, at the suggestion of the State Department, to WikiLeaks itself. In all, The Times plans to post on its Web site the text of about 100 cables — some edited, some in full — that illuminate aspects of American foreign policy.

Anonymous said...


There we have it. These editors are protecting and enhancing the security of which countries? - of the West, and of countries aligned with the West, of course. Even if sometimes protecting and enhancing the security of some one group of powerful countries means reducing and endangering the security of another group of countries which are somehow seen as threatening to the West.

People should be careful before assuming these leaks have any real or unbiased purpose.

Anonymous said...


True but what is almost certain is continuing zero or reverse per capita income growth of Pakistan in 2011 most probably till 2015 infact we are looking at another lost decade 2008-2018.

next year according to econnomist the World in 2011 projections Indian per capita income should be $1500+ whereas Pakistan's would be $950.
In 2015 when the MDG are finally accounted Indian per capita income may be 2-3 times that of Pakistan given that India is likely to displace China as world's fastest growing economy in 2011-12.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Simon Tisdall of The Guardian on America's imperious attitude toward Pakistan:

Pakistan was already under the American hammer before the WikiLeaks crisis blew. But leaked US diplomatic cables published by the Guardian show the extraordinary extent to which Pakistan is in danger of becoming a mere satrapy of imperial Washington.

The US assault on Pakistani sovereignty, which is how these developments are widely viewed in the country, is multipronged. At one end of the spectrum, in the sphere of "hard power", US special forces are increasingly involved, in one way or another, in covert military operations inside Pakistan.

These troops are being used to help hunt down Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in the tribal areas and co-ordinate drone attacks, as revealed by the Guardian's Pakistan correspondent, Declan Walsh. Their activities come in addition to previous air and ground cross-border raids; and to the quasi-permanent basing of American technicians and other personnel at the Pakistani air force base from which drone attacks are launched.

The US hand can be seen at work in Pakistan's complex politics, with the standing and competence of President Asif Ali Zardari seemingly constantly under harsh review. At one point, the military chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, reportedly consults the US ambassador about the possibility of a coup, designed in part to stop the advance of the opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif.

At the same time, Pakistani diplomats are convinced the Americans are somehow trying to commandeer the country's nuclear deterrent, which they see as its only real defence against India. And all this importunity is underpinned by "soft power", by a reverse cash tribute from Washington to Islamabad, approaching $2bn a year. In a very real sense, the Americans buy their way in.

This sort of helpful meddling, or shameless intrigue, or outrageous interference – decide yourself what you want to call it – in the internal affairs of a sovereign country is supposed to have gone out of fashion with the retreat of the British empire and the end of the Raj.

But that was never true in reality, of course. All great powers intrude in pursuit of their own interests; it's what they do – and picking up where the British left off, the US is no different. It is a measure of the Pakistani state's weakness that the Americans apparently have such scope and leeway to influence and direct its affairs.

What is equally remarkable, however, is how little the Americans appear able, ultimately, to control their satraps. Zardari talks a good game but achieves little. Millions of US taxpayer dollars earmarked for fighting Islamist extremists allegedly disappears into government coffers, never to be seen again. Washington's staunch Pakistani allies in the "war on terror" play both sides, maintaining their ties to friendly Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group while simultaneously accepting America's largesse. Being an imperialist is never easy.

So the Americans don't get what they want. But neither do ordinary Pakistanis. The larger point is that Pakistan is suffering grievously, in terms of lives lost to terrorism; in soldiers and civilians killed and wounded in the campaigns against Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas; in a ravaged economy, acute poverty and lack of education; and in the all but forgotten but still terrible aftermath of this year's floods.

Pakistan needs less foreign interference, not more. And that applies to Arab jihadi fanatics as much as it does to imperious Americans. But on current trends the opposite is happening. The clear danger, highlighted by the leaked cables, is that the west's unwinnable war in Afghanistan is spilling over into its weak, ill-led and much put-upon neighbour – and that Pakistan, too, could become a war zone.

Saurav said...

Riaz Haq said...


Pakistani media embellishments aside, the Wikileaks does paint a picture of feckless Indian Army as "slow and lumbering" and India's cold start strategy as a "mixture of myth and reality".

It also talks about western diplomats withholding criticism of India's failures before, during and after Mumbai terror attacks, and Hillary Clinton mocking of India ("self-appointed front-runner" for UNSC permanent seat) for its inflated sense of self-importance.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Guardian editorial on the fall-out from WikiLeaks disclosures:

In a cyber attack known as Operation Payback, a group of online activists called Anonymous targeted the websites of companies that had treated WikiLeaks like a bad smell. Visa, MasterCard, Paypal and Amazon have all had their websites, and in some cases their services, affected. Welcome to the world of the chaotic good. It is chaotic. But is it good?

These companies all considered that their association with WikiLeaks damaged their brand image, a reflection prompted in some cases by a helpful call from the US state department. In essence they are trying to have it both ways: pretending in their marketing that they are free spirits and enablers of the cyber world, but only living up to that image as long as they don't upset anyone really important. At Amazon there is real confusion between the two roles: it refused to host WikiLeaks but continued to sell an eBook of the leaked cables online.

The hacktivists of Anonymous may be accused of many things – such as immaturity or being run by a herd instinct. But theirs is the cyber equivalent of non-violent action or civil disobedience. It disrupts rather than damages. In challenging the credit card companies and the web hosts in this way, they are reminding these businesses that their brand reputation relies not only on how the state department sees them, but also on how they maintain their independence in the eyes of their users.

Not all the targets of the internet activists are the right ones. The website of the Swedish prosecution authority, which is currently attempting to extradite Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, on rape charges, and the website of Claes Borgström, the Stockholm lawyer representing the two women who made the allegations, were also brought down. As our interview with Mr Borgström makes clear, these women are going through hell: first for being the alleged victims of sexual assault, and second for being accused of involvement in some form of CIA honeytrap. The women's right to anonymity has been abandoned online as bloggers rake through their CVs. In Sweden, as in other countries, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and the test, beyond reasonable doubt, is set high. Far better would be to let the legal systems in Sweden and Britain take their course.

In times when big business and governments attempt to monitor and control everything, there is a need as never before for an internet that remains a free and universal form of communication. WikiLeaks' chief crime has been to speak truth to power. What is at stake is nothing less than the freedom of the internet. All the rest is a sideshow distracting attention from the real battle that is being fought. We should all keep focus on the true target.

Patrick said...

Hi there,

Just tuning in from Canada, and while much of the discussion of Pakistani politics goes over my heads, I can't tell you how glad I am to see these conversations in other parts of the world. I was very much minding my own business prior to this debacle (ie. I'm no conspiracy aficionado), but these revelations broken me out of my stupor and have made me furious. One hearing the issue of the Pakistani media fabricating a leak for propaganda purposes, I went out looking for reactions, and stumbled upon your blog. I like you style.

Good luck to you, and keep up the critique of the status quo :)

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a piece by Fatima Bhutto on what Wikileaks reveals about Pakistan:

With governments like Pakistan's current regime, who needs the strong arm of the CIA? According to Bob Woodward's latest bestseller Obama's Wars, when Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, an obsequiously dangerous man, was notified that the CIA would be launching missile strikes from drones over his country's sovereign territory, he replied, "Kill the seniors. Collateral damage worries you Americans. It doesn't worry me."

Why would he worry? When his wife Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 2007 to run for prime minister after years of self-imposed exile, she was already pledged to a campaign of pro-American engagement. She promised to hand over nuclear scientist and international bogeyman Dr. A.Q. Khan, the "father" of the Pakistani atomic bomb, to the International Atomic Energy Agency. She also made clear that, once back in power, she would allow the Americans to bomb Pakistan proper, so that George W. Bush's Global War on Terror might triumph. Of course, the Americans had been involved in covert strikes and other activities in Pakistan since at least 2001, but we didn't know that then.
According to the recent cache of State Department cables released by Wikileaks, his position and those of his colleagues in government haven't wavered. In 2008, for example, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani enthusiasticall y told American Ambassador Anne Paterson that he "didn't care" if drone strikes were launched against his country as long as the "right people" were targeted. (They weren't.) "We'll protest in the National Assembly," Gilani added cynically, "and then ignore it."
Barack Obama ordered his first drone strike against Pakistan just 72 hours after being sworn in as president. It seems a suitably macabre fact that, according to a U.N. report on "targeted killings" (that is, assassinations) published in 2010, George W. Bush employed drone strikes 45 times in his eight years as President. In Obama's first year in office, the drones were sent in 53 times. In the six years that drone strikes have been used in the fight against Pakistan, researchers at the New America Foundation estimate that between 1,283 and 1,971 people have been killed.

While the dead are regularly identified as "militants" or "suspected militants" in newspaper stories and on the TV news, they almost never have names, nor are their identities confirmed or faces shown. Their histories are always vague. The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) took a careful look at nine drone strikes from the last two years and concluded that they had resulted in the deaths of 30 civilians, including 14 women and children. (Perhaps, of course, superior American military intelligence classified them as "militants in training.") Based on this study, an average rate of error can be calculated: 3.33 civilians mistakenly killed in each drone attack. The dead, Pakistanis will assure you, are largely unnamed, faceless, unindicted, and un-convicted civilians.
In 2009, in one of the many State Department cables Wikileaks loosed on the world, U.S. Ambassador Anne Paterson confirmed that key player and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani directed his forces to aid those American drone strikes. Various U.S. operations in the country's northern and tribal regions were, the ambassador wrote, "almost certainly [conducted] with the personal consent of… General Kayani."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting tidbit about an earlier leak of US communication about India, as reported by The Hindu:

"In 2003 a leak of a U.S. study on military relations with India based on interviews with dozens of American policymakers caused a major diplomatic spat. It revealed that Indian bureaucrats and senior officers were seen by their U.S. counterparts as “easily slighted or insulted”, “difficult to work with”, and “obsessed” with history."

Unknown said...

Hey Riaz, If the U.S thinks that India is tough to work with, i would take that as a compliment. Unlike your Commando in exile, who colluded so willingly with 'W'.

Riaz Haq said...

chimung: "If the U.S. thinks that India is tough to work with, i would take that as a compliment. Unlike your Commando in exile, who colluded so willingly with 'W'."

The Indian diplomats attitude is that of an overly sensitive child easily insulted because of an inferiority complex.

As to Musharraf, the reason he is not there as president now is because he refused to deliver what the Americans wanted.

A couple years ago, a Dutch diplomat in New Delhi couldn't take it any more. He came under fire from the Indian foreign ministry after he reportedly labeled the capital as "miserable" and a "garbage dump", according to a newspaper report.

Arnold Parzer, agriculture counsellor at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, reportedly told the Dutch daily Het Financieele Dagblad that New Delhi residents were a "darn nuisance”, the Hindustan Times reported.

“Anything that can go wrong, does go wrong; everyone interferes with everyone else; the people are a darn nuisance; the climate is hell; the city is a garbage dump,” Parzer reportedly told the daily.

“New Delhi is the most miserable place I have ever lived in,” the diplomat was quoted as saying.

The Hindustan Times said India’s foreign ministry had summoned Dutch ambassador Eric Neihe, who in turn had “taken the officer to task”.

Unknown said...

You say that Commando is no longer prez because he couldn't deliver what the Americans wanted. You make it sound as if Pakistan is an American colony. Or is it ?

Anonymous said...

'The Indian diplomats attitude is that of an overly sensitive child easily insulted because of an inferiority complex.'

This child has routinely outsmarted most countries and not to mention flown rings around PAkistan's proud yet incompetent diplomats who can't even get the OIC to pass a definitive resolution on Kashmir.

Inferiority complex??Indians??

Chest thumping 'we are the next superpower' attitude is not really a sign of an inferiority complex.

Riaz Haq said...

It seems like there are efforts to revive TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), backed by US as an alternative to Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. Here's a BBC report:

A deal has been struck on building a 1,700km (1,050m) pipeline to carry Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.

The Tapi project aims to feed energy-deprived South Asian markets and transit fees may benefit Afghanistan.

But details about security and funding were not addressed in the framework agreement reached by the four states.

The pipeline will have to cross Taliban-controlled regions and Pakistan's troubled border region.

Turkmenistan has previously costed the project at $3.3bn (£2.1bn, 2.5bn euros) although other estimates are as high as $10bn.

Tapi, a project which dates back to the mid-1990s, is backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The US has also encouraged the project as an alternative to a proposed Iranian pipeline to India and Pakistan.

The framework intergovernmental agreement was signed in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat by three presidents - Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan - and India's energy minister, Murli Deora.

"This will not be an easy project to complete - it is mandatory that we guarantee the security of the pipeline and the quality of construction work," ADP chief Haruhiko Kuroda told reporters in Ashgabat.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the NY Times story about mounting European criticism of the US stance on Julian Assange:

.. American officials and politicians have been widely condemned in the European news media for calling the leaks everything from “terrorism” (Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York) to “an attack against the international community” (Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton). Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates called the arrest of Mr. Assange on separate rape charges “good news.” Sarah Palin called for him to be hunted as an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands,” and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, said that whoever leaked the cables should be executed.

For Seumas Milne of The Guardian in London, which like The New York Times has published the latest WikiLeaks trove, the official American reaction “is tipping over toward derangement.” Most of the leaks are of low-level diplomatic cables, he noted, while concluding: “Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free.”

John Naughton, writing in the same British paper, deplored the attack on the openness of the Internet and the pressure on companies like Amazon and eBay to evict the WikiLeaks site. “The response has been vicious, coordinated and potentially comprehensive,” he said, and presents a “delicious irony” that “it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamoring to shut WikiLeaks down.”

A year ago, he noted, Mrs. Clinton made a major speech about Internet freedom, interpreted as a rebuke to China’s cyberattack on Google. “Even in authoritarian countries,” she said, “information networks are helping people to discover new facts and making governments more accountable.” To Mr. Naughton now, “that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece.”

The Russians seemed to take a special delight in tweaking Washington over its reaction to the leaks, suggesting that the Americans were being hypocritical. “If it is a full-fledged democracy, then why have they put Mr. Assange away in jail? You call that democracy?” Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin said during a news briefing with the French prime minister, François Fillon. Mr. Assange is in jail in Britain while Sweden seeks his extradition to face rape charges.

Mr. Putin then referred to a Russian proverb that roughly translates as “the pot calling the kettle black.”

“You know, out in the countryside, we have a saying, ‘Someone else’s cow may moo, but yours should keep quiet,’ ” Mr. Putin said. “So I would like to shoot that puck right back at our American colleagues.”

German newspapers were similarly harsh. Even The Financial Times Deutschland (independent of the English-language Financial Times), said that “the already damaged reputation of the United States will only be further tattered with Assange’s new martyr status.” It added that “the openly embraced hope of the U.S. government that along with Assange, WikiLeaks will disappear from the scene, is questionable.”

Mr. Assange is being hounded, the paper said, “even though no one can explain what crimes Assange allegedly committed with the publication of the secret documents, or why publication by WikiLeaks was an offense, and in The New York Times, it was not.”

The left-wing Berliner Zeitung wrote that Washington’s reputation had been damaged by the leaks. But the reputation of United States leaders “is being damaged much more right now as they attempt — with all their means — to muzzle WikiLeaks” and Mr. Assange. They are the first, the paper claimed, to have “used the power of the Internet against the United States. That is why they are being mercilessly pursued. That is why the government is betraying one of the principles of democracy.” ...

Riaz Haq said...

While US President Obama has called on Pakistan to "do more", the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called on the international community to do more to help Pakistan in its fight against militancy. Here is a BBC report on Wen's address to Pakistani parliament:

Chinese Prime Minster Wen Jiabao has praised Pakistan's efforts in the international fight against terrorism.

In a speech to Pakistan's parliament, Mr Wen also called on the international community to do more to help Pakistan in its fight against militancy.

He spoke two days after a US strategic review of the Afghan war said Pakistan must do more to beat militants.

Mr Wen was speaking at the end of a three-day visit to Pakistan aimed at boosting China's main regional ally.

China signed deals worth $10bn during the visit.

Loyal ally

All of Pakistan's ruling and opposition parliamentarians were in attendance as Wen Jiabao took the floor on Sunday.

He was quick to lend his voice in support of Pakistan's efforts against militancy.

Mr Wen's speech was seen as major boost to a key regional ally
Mr Wen said Pakistan had made immense sacrifices in the international fight against terrorism. He said the country's help had also been instrumental in helping to control the growth of terror.

Mr Wen called on the international community to appreciate and support Pakistan in its struggle against this "menace".

He said China remained committed to helping Pakistan through troubled times.

The Chinese premier's comments appear to be aimed at bolstering support for Pakistan.

The country has come under increasing criticism from the West for its alleged support of international Islamic militants.

In this context Mr Wen's visit is seen to be of immense importance.

The two countries reached several deals in the energy and defence sector worth billions of dollars during the tour.

China remains Pakistan's staunchest ally and has often used its international clout to support its perpetually beleaguered friend.

anoop said...

"Wikileaks Disclosures Expose Pakistani Leaders' Disdain for Democracy", is the heading of this article.

But, these leaders are elected by the people and hence can be kicked out in the next election.

The appropriate heading should have been, "Army Chief threatens to oust Democratically elected Leader."

No matter how corrupt the leaders are they are answerable to the people. Army Chief's job is to protect the Country from outside influences, not judge how honest or dishonest the elected President is.

Its very interesting that while you take a mild tone in describing the scandalous remarks of the Army Chief, which in any Democratic Country(FYI, Pakistan has never been a Democracy before and this explains why) he would be promptly kicked out of office, but take a harsher view of the Political leaders.

Considering all the mess that Pakistan is in is due to the very Institution that is meant to protect it, your piece suggests a soft corner for military intervention and dictators like Musharaff.

I am understand your pessimism with Democracy, knowing that you have NEVER voted in your life in a Democratic Pakistan. All you must have seen is half-Democracy where the real guy in power is the Army and Civilians are left to clean up the mess.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an India Times report on Wikileaks about the incompetence of Indian security forces:

NEW DELHI: India is "very keen" to get information and technology from the US for counter-terrorism efforts but provides "little in return", says a US embassy cable made public by WikiLeaks .

The cable, dated Feb 23, 2007 and reproduced by The Guardian, also came down heavily on Indian security forces, calling them corrupt and poorly trained and said they did not "conduct solid forensic investigations".

The cable explained the American assessment of why New Delhi remained a distant partner vis-a-vis the US on counter-terrorism efforts.

"India's lingering zero-sum suspicion of US policies towards Pakistan, its fiercely independent foreign policy stance, its traditional go-it-alone strategy toward its security, and its domestic political sensitivities over the sentiments of its large Muslim population, have all contributed to India's caution in working with us on a joint counter-terrorism strategy," the cable said.

It pointed out that while "India has been very keen to receive information and technology from us to further its counter-terrorism efforts, India provides little in return, despite our belief that the country should be an equal partner in this relationship.

"India frequently rebuffs our offers of support for their police investigations of terrorist attacks and our offers of training and support are often met with a stalled logistical pace."

Making another point, the cable said it had to be kept in mind that "our perception of India's lack of cooperation on US CT (Counter Terrorism) concerns often stems in part from India's lack of capacity to manage these issues bureaucratically".

It said that Indian police and security forces were "overworked and hampered by bad police practices, including the widespread use of torture in interrogations, rampant corruption, poor training, and a general inability to conduct solid forensic investigations.

"India's most elite security forces also regularly cut corners to avoid working through India's lagging justice system, which has approximately 13 judges per million people.

"Thus Indian police officials often do not respond to our requests for information about attacks or our offers of support because they are covering up poor practices, rather than rejecting our help outright."
"She (Sonia Gandhi) presents an intriguing enigma of a warm private personality that remains concealed and is available only to her closest confidants and family members."

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a recent Goldman Sachs warning about India's growing current acount deficits being funded by short-term capital inflows:

MUMBAI: India's current account deficit is being increasingly funded by short-term capital inflows rather than more durable foreign direct investment (FDI), posing a risk to external balance and funding of gap, Goldman Sachs said.

"While we remain constructive on India's medium-term growth outlook, the deterioration in external balances represents the biggest risk, in our view, to the Indian growth story, and one that investors should follow very closely," Goldman Sachs wrote in a note on Tuesday.

Goldman estimates the current account deficit to widen to 4 per cent of GDP in the current fiscal year, from 2.9 per cent in the previous year, and further to 4.3 per cent in 2011/12, its highest-ever level.

"Nearly 80 per cent of the capital inflows are non- FDI related. Given the excess spare capacity globally, FDI may remain weak going forward," the note said.

Rising imports due to strong domestic demand and concerns that exports growth may be slow could add to the widening current account gap problem, it said.

India's current account deficit widened sharply to $13.7 billion in the June-quarter, which was around 3.7 per cent of GDP. The deficit was $4.5 billion in the same period year ago.

India's Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said last month that the government expects the current account deficit for 2010/11 to be above 3 per cent and the economy can manage a deficit of 3.0-3.5 per cent of GDP.

Goldman, however, said India's foreign exchange reserves were adequate to counter temporary reversals of capital.

"Yet, the increased reliance on external capital to fund ever-wider current account deficits has increased vulnerability significantly more than before the 2008 crisis," Goldman said.

A reversal of capital inflows, in case of an extended period of risk aversion could lead to a sharp sell-off in currency, bonds, equities and cause a liquidity crunch resulting in a sharp decline in output.

"We flag this more as a risk, than a clear and present danger," the note said.

Riaz Haq said...

Is the following a fake cable from Amb. Munter in Islamabad?

The fake cable says: Having been in Pakistan since October, I am forwarding a brief review of my first personal impressions.

1) View about America: Survey after survey has shown that the populace at large has very unfavorably views US government and policy. The perception in the corridors of power is very different. Given their propensities to focus on conspiracy theories most of them have a notion of US influence in Pakistan that far exceeds our real capabilities. Sometimes I feel as the “Governor General” from a bygone past caught in a historic time warp. From the highest office down to midlevel functionaries, perception becomes reality, when it comes to viewing US as the kingmaker. This mostly helps us in stacking the deck of cards in our favor but also works against us at times when diplomacy is seen as failing. The dilemma for our policy is incongruence between our objectives and the popular sentiment of the people in Pakistan. Changing this is not merely a matter of perception and has to be more than a public relations exercise. It will require a significant change in our strategic trajectory.

2) The Social divide: Having served in Iraq I have experienced the divide between the elites and the common citizen, which is quite typical of the Middle East and South Asian countries. In Pakistan however it takes unparalleled heights. My first private party at a key minister’s residence, the opulent lifestyle was in full contrast to the plight of those serving us. White gloved waiters were standing with ashtrays so that the corpulent minister and guests could smoke their Cuban cigars at will, and with utmost disdain flicker the ash at random intervals to be caught by the gloved waiter with unsurpassed skill. Alcohol, which is, otherwise not in public display in this Islamic country was flowing from an open bar. Our hosts were shocked that most of the American guests did not drink. I was taken aback at the presence of so many blond Pakistani women, on inquiring was told by our bemused social secretary about the miracle of peroxide and modern hair coloring which seems to be the fashion statement of the day for well groomed (sic) modern Pakistani women. As we pulled out to leave, the sight of an army of drivers was something to behold, huddled in the frigid night until the wee hours, for the masters to terminate their fracas. Service is legitimate but this smacked of servitude, opprobrium reminiscent of attitudes of European aristocracy and our own experience with slavery.

3) Hypocrisy a new dimension: I was stunned to hear form a very senior political functionary about US interference in the internal affairs of the country. When pointed out that this interference could be curtailed if the government of Pakistan would refuse to take billions of dollars in US aid annually, his response was that monies were for services rendered in the fighting terrorism. Purloin of developmental funds to support the prodigious lifestyle of the ruling elite seems to be the normative. This can be only rationalized as a self-entitled narcissism of a collective of people with a rapacious appetite to loot the country.


Riaz Haq said...

Fake Cable contd:

4) The common man: My contact has been limited but even with limited exposure they continue to amaze me. In abject poverty and mired in the maelstrom of illiteracy they display a dignity and authenticity that is in stark contrast to the capriciousness of the pseudo westernized elites. Hospitable to a fault and honest despite being in the vortex of poverty the common everyday people of Pakistan display great ingenuity to survive against formidable odds, a gristle of the soul, that must come from a past rooted in spiritual life of a different sort.

5) Democracy: In Pakistan democracy has taken a dimension that borders on mockery of true representative government. The elected representatives come almost exclusively for the elite and privileged class. Rather than representing the populace they are more like local regional ‘viceroys’ representing the federal government and their own vested interests in the regions.

Most are in politics not with a sense of public service but more to maximize the opportunity to make money, which they do with total disdain. The mainstream political parties are oligarchies controlled by the founding patriarchs or their heirs. One wonders if this is the model, we seek to perpetuate? Given my background as a history professor I have my druthers.

6) Alchemy of change: The polarization in the society makes significant change likely in the near future but given the deficit of leadership and organization it is not inevitable. This situation is unlikely to be remedied in the short term. If such a leadership were to emerge then conflict between the polarized segments would likely ensue. Under these circumstances we will not be able to count on the military as a stabilizing force. The military though a disciplined and well led, is a egalitarian body with much of its leadership and rank coming from middle, lower middle and poor classes. Their support of any move to perpetuate the rule of the elite will be at their own peril. The current military leadership is unlikely to prop the existing structure if such a conflict was to occur and possibly may even be catalytic toward such change. This is in stark departure form the past.

Pakistan is a fascinating place the contradictions are glaring but the promise is great, ironically what may be good for Pakistan may at least in the short term not be good for furtherance of our policy goals. We need to take a long view and it may be worthwhile to cut our losses, uncouple from the ruling elite and align our self with popular grassroots sentiment in the country. This would change our perception in the short term and when change does come we, for a change, will be on the right side.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tim Wu (Net Neutrality, Master Switch Fame) arguing in Foreign Policy Magazine for US to stop its pursuit of Wikileaks founder:

Just over a year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paved the way with her notable speech on "Internet Freedom." More recently, she explicitly condemned Egypt's Internet shutdown. Her message -- that an open Internet is an issue of fundamental freedom in the 21st century -- has been complicated by the actions of other branches of the U.S. federal government, especially the Justice Department's plans to prosecute WikiLeaks for its role in publishing leaked U.S. State Department diplomatic cables.


Prosecution of WikiLeaks would hurt, if it not destroy, the credibility of the United States in claiming to be the world's most vital advocate of an open Internet. It would send the dangerous signal that the United States only claims to uphold the virtues of an open Internet and free speech -- until it decides it doesn't like a particular website. There could hardly be a worse moment to send that message, to be telling the Arab world: Do as we say, not as we do.


For the Obama administration, there lies here a real danger here of repeating the mistakes made by the previous White House. George W. Bush's team believed that that the United States could disregard human rights when it was convenient and somehow still maintain America's international reputation as the foremost agent of freedom and democracy. The Bushies were wrong. Let's hope Obama's team won't make the same mistake. As the saying goes, if you want to talk the talk, it helps to walk the walk.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian newspaper The Hindu is publishing some wikileaks cable on India. Here are a few interesting ones:

1. The Hindu reveals that PM Singh isolated on wanting talks with Pakistan:

During the interaction, Mr. Narayanan, who had been described by the Embassy in a January 12, 2005 cable (25259: confidential) as a long-time Gandhi family loyalist “who is seen as part of the traditional ‘coterie' around Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi,” came through as a hardliner on Pakistan, never afraid to voice his differences with Prime Minister Singh.

In an August 11, 2009 cable (220281: confnoforn), sent a day after the meeting, Mr. Roemer noted that Mr. Narayanan, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau who is now Governor of West Bengal, readily conceded that he had differences with Prime Minister Singh on Pakistan. The Prime Minister was a “great believer” in talks and negotiations with Islamabad, but Mr. Narayanan himself was “not a great believer in Pakistan.”

2. India was locked in a tussle with the United States over sharing information from the 2008 Mumbai attacks investigation with Pakistan, according to a chain of U.S. Embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks.

During the India-Pakistan standoff in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation helped the two sides share information of each other's investigations.

But India, suspicious of Pakistan's intentions, tried as long as it could to fend off U.S. pressure on information-sharing — before relenting, but with some conditions.

Unhappy about those conditions, the U.S. then sought to work around them through a “broad” reading of the assent.

On January 3, 2009 Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice instructed the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi to deliver a demarche (cable 185593: secret) that the U.S. was making available to it material on the Mumbai attacks provided by the Government of Pakistan.

Dr. Rice asked Ambassador David Mulford to tell New Delhi that “this information originated from top Pakistani officials in very sensitive positions and is passed to you with their permission. It represents a genuine willingness on their part to share sensitive and significant information with India.”

Riaz Haq said...

Arab protesters demand democracy, but not secularism, says Michael Scheuer, former Bin Laden hunter at the CIA:

The Arab world’s unrest has brought forth gushing, rather adolescent analysis about what the region will look like a year or more hence. Americans have decided that these upheavals have everything to do with the advent of liberalism, secularism, and Westernization in the region and that Islamist militant groups like al-Qaeda have been sidelined by the historically inevitable triumph of democracy—a belief that sounds a bit like the old Marxist-Leninist claptrap about iron laws of history and communism’s inexorable triumph.

How has this judgment been reached? Primarily by disregarding facts, logic, and history, and instead relying on (a) the thin veneer of young, educated, pro-democracy, and English-speaking Muslims who can be found on Facebook and Twitter and (b) the employees of the BBC, CNN, and most other media networks, who have suspended genuine journalism in favor of cheerleading for secularism and democracy on the basis of a non-representative sample of English-speaking street demonstrators and users of social-networking sites. The West’s assessment of Arab unrest so far has been—to paraphrase Sam Spade’s comment about the Maltese Falcon—the stuff that dreams, not reality, are made of.

A year from now, we will find that most Arab Muslims have neither embraced nor installed what they have long regarded as an irreligious and even pagan ideology—secular democracy. They will have instead adhered even more closely to the faith that has graced, ordered, and regulated their lives for more than 1400 years, and which helped them endure the oppressive rule of Western-supported tyrants and kleptocrats.

This does not mean that fanatically religious regimes will dominate the region, but a seven-year Gallup survey of the Muslim world published in 2007 shows that a greater degree of Sharia law in governance is favored by young and old, moderates and militants, men and even women in most Muslim countries. While a façade of democracy may well appear in new regimes in places like Egypt and Tunisia, their governments will be heavily influenced by the military and by Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. If for no other reason, the Islamist groups will have a powerful pull because they have strong organizational capabilities; wide allegiance among the highly educated in the military, hard sciences, engineering, religious faculties, and medicine; and a reservoir of patience for a two-steps-forward, one-step-back strategy that is beyond Western comprehension. We in the West too often forget, for example, that the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda draw from Muslim society’s best and brightest, not its dregs; that al-Qaeda has been waging its struggle for 25 years, the Muslim Brotherhood for nearly 85 years; and that Islam has been in the process of globalizing since the 7th century.

As new Arab regimes develop, Westerners also are likely to find that their own deep sense of superiority over devout Muslims—which is especially strong among the secular left, Christian evangelicals, and neoconservatives—is unwarranted. The nearly universal assumption in the West is that Islamic governance could not possibly satisfy the aspirations of Muslims for greater freedom and increased economic opportunity—this even though Iran has a more representative political system than that of any state in the region presided over by a Western-backed dictator. No regime run by the Muslim Brotherhood would look like Canada, but it would be significantly less oppressive than those run by the al-Sauds and Mubarak. This is not to say it would be similar to or more friendly toward the West—neither will be the case—but in terms of respecting and addressing basic human concerns they will be less monstrous.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed in The Hindu on Wikileaks cables showing growing US and Israeli influence in New Delhi:

The publication and analysis of the US embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks is ongoing, but what has been made available so far reveals a disturbing picture. The US has acquired an influential position in various spheres - strategic affairs, foreign policy and economic policies. The US has access to the bureaucracy, military, security and intelligence systems and has successfully penetrated them at various levels. The cables cover a period mainly from 2005 to 2009, the very period when the UPA government went ahead to forge the strategic alliance with the US.
The volte face by the Manmohan Singh government in voting against Iran in the IAEA in September 2005 was one such crucial event. The cables illustrate how the US government exercised maximum pressure to achieve this turn around. The Indian government was told that unless India takes a firm stand against Iran, the US Congress would not pass the legislation to approve the nuclear deal.
Other cables reveal how the United States succeeded in getting India to coordinate policy towards other countries in South Asia like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The close cooperation with Israel under US aegis is also spelt out.

The success achieved in getting India's foreign policy to be "congruent" to US policy is smugly stated in an embassy cable that Indian officials are ‘loathe to admit publicly that India and the US have begun coordinating foreign policies'.
One of the cables from the US ambassador to the American defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld spells out the agenda which the Americans hope to accomplish during the visit. The Defence Framework Agreement was the first of this type to be signed by India with any country. It envisages a whole gamut of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries. It is evident from the cables that the US government and the Pentagon had been negotiating and planning for such an agreement from the time of the NDA government.
The cables show the growing coordination of the security establishments of the two countries reaching a high level of cooperation after the Mumbai terrorist attack. The then National Security Advisor, M K Narayanan was seen by the Americans as eager to establish a high degree of security cooperation involving agencies such as the FBI and the CIA.

The cables also provide a glimpse of how the Americans are able to penetrate the intelligence and security apparatus. Among the forty cables which were first published by the British paper, The Guardian, there are two instances of improper contacts. In the first case a member of the National Security Advisory Board meets an American embassy official and offers to provide information about Iranian contacts in India and requests for his visit to the United States to be arranged in return. In another case the US embassy reports that it is able to get access to terrorism related information directly from a police official serving in the Delhi Police, rather than going through official channels.
The collaboration between the intelligence and security agencies of the two countries had already resulted in American penetration. Two cases of espionage had come up. During the NDA government, a RAW officer, Rabinder Singh was recruited by the CIA. When his links were uncovered, he was helped by the CIA to flee to the United States. During the UPA government a systems analyst in the National Security Council secretariat was found to have been recruited by the CIA, the contact having been established through the US-India Cyber Security Forum.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian Op Ed by Indian journalist Pankaj Mishra:

Food prices become intolerable for the poor. Protests against corruption paralyse the national parliament for weeks on end. Then a series of American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks exposes a brazenly mendacious and venal ruling class; the head of government adored by foreign business people and journalists loses his moral authority, turning into a lame duck.
Even the western financial press, unwaveringly gung-ho about the money to be made in India, is getting restless. Early this year, the Economist asked: "Is Indian capitalism becoming oligarchic?" – a question to which the only correct response is "Hell-ooo". Recently in the Financial Times' Indian business dynasties have been described as "robber barons".

The intimate details about politicians revealed by WikiLeaks still leave you speechless. What can one say about the former cabinet minister, a fervent spokesman for low-caste Hindus, who demanded a large bribe from Dow Chemical Company, which is being helped by senior American officials to overcome its association with the gas leak at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal that in 1984 killed and maimed tens of thousands of Indians?

Indeed, the cables reveal US business and officials to be as embedded in India's politics as they are in Pakistan's. In 2008, the aide to an old courtier of the Nehru-Gandhi family showed a US diplomat two chests containing $25m in cash – money to bribe members of parliament into voting for an India-US nuclear deal, itself a prelude to massive US arms sales to India. Publicly opposed to the nuclear deal, the leaders of the Hindu nationalist BJP are at pains to reassure American diplomats of their pro-US credentials, even dissing their murderous Hindu nationalism as opportunistic, a mere "talking point".

The cables offer many such instances of the ideological deceptions practised by the purveyors of "Rising India". Virtually all economic growth of recent years, a senior politician admits, is concentrated in the four southern states, two western states (Gujarat and Maharashtra) and "within 100km of Delhi". But why worry? He has nieces and sisters living in the US, and "five homes to visit between DC and New York". As for the entry of retailers like Walmart into India, oh, that "should not seriously hurt the mom and pop stores that form a BJP constituency".

Not surprisingly, the Americans have developed contempt for such representatives of the world's largest democracy, who seem to validate Mahatma Gandhi's extreme denunciations of parliament as a "prostitute". Hillary Clinton gets right to the point in a cabled inquiry about Pranab Mukherjee, the finance minister widely tipped as India's next PM: "To which industrial or business groups is Mukherjee beholden? Whom will he seek to help through his policies? Why was Mukherjee chosen for the finance portfolio over Montek Singh Ahluwalia?" – the last named is a reliably pro-US technocrat.


Visiting the White House in 2008, Singh induced a nationwide cringe when he blurted out to the most disliked American president ever: "The people of India deeply love you." (Even George Bush looked startled.) This love unblushingly speaks its name everywhere in the WikiLeaks cables; even the racketeers of Pakistani military and intelligence appear dignified when compared with the Indians stampeding to plant kisses on US behinds. Singh has presided over an ignominious surrender of national sovereignty and dignity.

Riaz Haq said...

Nawaz Sharif's anti-American rhetoric notwithstanding, Wikileaks leaked cables reveal he insists that he is pro-America, according to the Guardian newspaper:

Friday, 01 February 2008, 13:41
EO 12958 DECL: 02/01/2018
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)

Nawaz and (Ch Nisar Ali) Khan both repeatedly said that the PML-N was pro-American. Nawaz recounted his decision to override his Chief of Army Staff and deploy Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia in support of the U.S. coalition in the first Gulf War. Meanwhile, Khan noted, the PPP and its leaders were organizing street demonstrations against Pakistan joining with the U.S. coalition. Now, Nawaz said, he was hurt that the U.S. did not remember. Nawaz said he understood that 9/11 had changed things, but urged that the U.S. apply some balance to the relationship. In the past, the U.S. was known as the power that rejected dictatorships, that fought for independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. Why, he asked, did we continue to support a man who fired the Supreme Court, abrogated the constitution, and arrested civil society activists?

10. (C) Comment: The fact that a former Prime Minister believes the U.S. could control the appointment of Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff speaks volumes about the myth of American influence here. Based on our understanding of the current situation, we believe Nawaz can and should take the threats to his life seriously. It comes as no surprise that Nawaz exaggerated his party's election prospects; his willingness to deal with the PPP is, however, a good sign he is ready to cooperate on government formation.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Op Ed by Miranda Husain published in Newsweek Pakistan about Saudis and Bahrainis seeking Pak help in quelling Shia protests:

Less than three weeks after Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces, led by Saudi Arabia, entered Bahrain to aid the anti-democracy crackdown there, dignitaries from both oil-rich kingdoms did their separate rounds in Pakistan. The royal houses of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are nervous, and they need Pakistan’s mercenaries, and—if necessary—military muscle to shore them up.

This is a remarkable turn of events for Asif Ali Zardari, who had been trying since he was elected president in 2008 to secure Saudi oil on sweetheart terms. He had been unsuccessful in his efforts because the Sunni Saudis view his leadership with some degree of skepticism. It also doesn’t help that Zardari, a Shia, is big on improving relations with Shia Tehran. Riyadh now appears inclined to export oil on terms that better suit cash-strapped Islamabad. Manama, too, wants to play ball. It wants increased defense cooperation and has pledged to prioritize Pakistan’s hopes for a free-trade agreement with the GCC in return. But Zardari and his Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, should fight the urge to get mired in the Middle East.

Pakistan already has a presence in Bahrain: a battalion of the Azad Kashmir Regiment was deployed there over a year ago to train local troops, and retired officers from our Navy and Army are part of their security forces. Media estimates put the number of Pakistanis serving in Bahrain’s security establishment at about 10,000. Their removal has been a key demand of protesters in the kingdom. Last month in Islamabad, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani reportedly assured Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, that Pakistan would offer more retired manpower to help quell the uprising against Bahrain’s Sunni rulers by its Shia majority. Gilani’s spokesman was unable to confirm the pledge.

Islamabad’s support to the tottering regime in Manama is not ideal. “It’s like our version of Blackwater,” says Talat Masood, a former Pakistan Army general, referring to Bahrain’s recruitment drive in Pakistan. “We’re doing [in Bahrain] exactly what we have been opposing here,” he says. Pakistan, he maintains, has no business in trying to suppress a democratic, people’s movement in another country. Short-term economic gains cannot be the only prism through which Pakistan views its national interests, he says.

Pakistan has a long history of military involvement and training in the Arab world. Its pilots flew warplanes in the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, and volunteered for the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Involvement in Bahrain’s current strife would not be the first time that Pakistan has used its military might to thwart an Arab uprising against an Arab regime. In 1970, future military dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, then head of the Pakistani military training mission in Jordan, led his soldiers to intervene on the side of Amman to quash a Palestinian challenge to its rule.
“The U.S. has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations,” says Chomsky. “Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world,” he says. Pakistan has such “severe internal problems” that it may not be able to play this role even if asked to. But the real reason that Pakistan should avoid this role is so that it can stand on the right side of history, alongside those who are fighting for democracy.

Anonymous said...

Mohammed Hanif, a Pakistani journalist and the author of the novel “A Case of Exploding Mangoes,” a satire of Pakistan’s military, said in an interview: “People of Pakistan don’t wake up in the morning fearing an Indian attack. They wake up fearing a bomb going off in a mosque or a bazaar. But Pakistan’s army’s reason for existence is India. Even after fighting its own Muslim brothers on its own turf for 10 years, and losing more soldiers than it ever has in a confrontation with India, Pakistan’s army remains India-centric.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a new definition of "conspiracy" theory offered by former US Secretary of Treasury Paul Craig Roberts:

While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition.

A "conspiracy theory" no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy. Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government's explanation and that of its media pimps.

For example, online news broadcasts of RT have been equated with conspiracy theories by the New York Times simply because RT reports news and opinions that the New York Times does not report and the US government does not endorse.

In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.

When piles of carefully researched books, released government documents, and testimony of eye witnesses made it clear that Oswald was not President John F. Kennedy's assassin, the voluminous research, government documents, and verified testimony was dismissed as "conspiracy theory."

In other words, the truth of the event was unacceptable to the authorities and to the Ministry of Propaganda that represents the interests of authorities.

The purest example of how Americans are shielded from truth is the media's (including many Internet sites') response to the large number of professionals who find the official explanation of September 11, 2001, inconsistent with everything they, as experts, know about physics, chemistry, structural engineering, architecture, fires, structural damage, the piloting of airplanes, the security procedures of the United States, NORAD's capabilities, air traffic control, airport security, and other matters.

These experts, numbering in the thousands, have been shouted down by know-nothings in the media who brand the experts as "conspiracy theorists."

This despite the fact that the official explanation endorsed by the official media is the most extravagant conspiracy theory in human history.

Let's take a minute to re-acquaint ourselves with the official explanation, which is not regarded as a conspiracy theory despite the fact that it comprises an amazing conspiracy.

The official truth is that a handful of young Muslim Arabs who could not fly airplanes, mainly Saudi Arabians who came neither from Iraq nor from Afghanistan, outwitted not only the CIA and the FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies and all intelligence agencies of US allies including Israel's Mossad, which is believed to have penetrated every terrorist organization and which carries out assassinations of those whom Mossad marks as terrorists.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Reuters' report about President Asif Zardari's current troubles:

Zardari, long plagued by accusations of rampant graft, has never connected with Pakistanis in the way his wife did.

That was all too clear when epic floods raged through Pakistan in 2010, inundating 20 percent of the country and making millions homeless.

The president set off a on a trip to Europe as the disaster was unfolding and made no immediate effort to return home. While in France, Zardari visited a chateau he owns in Normandy.

The election of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which has long opposed military involvement in politics, in 2008 raised hopes the nuclear-armed South Asian nation could shake off the legacy of decades of intermittent army rule and turn back a rising tide of Islamist militancy.

Zardari, however, has failed to deliver since then, dismissed as an uncaring playboy -- another feudal landlord who ignored the needs of the masses -- while Pakistan lurched from crisis to crisis, from crippling power cuts to suicide bombings.

He has always appeared to lack the political resolve to push through reforms that could help the fragile economy and make it less dependent on foreign aid.

But while his job as president has become largely ceremonial, his leadership of the ruling PPP gives him strong political influence.


Some Western officials concluded early on that he lacked the skills to lead a country seen as critical to Washington's global efforts to tackle militancy.

In a 2008 diplomatic cable carried by WikiLeaks, then chief of the British Defence Staff Jock Stirrup said Zardari was "clearly a numbskull."

The unpopularity of his government may have only served to strengthen generals after Zardari committed the cardinal sin for any Pakistani politician of alienating the military.

At one point, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani hinted to the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan that he might have to persuade Zardari to step down because of political turmoil, according to a 2009 cable released by WikiLeaks.

But luckily for Zardari, it seemed the military concluded at the time that he was a better option than other political leaders it distrusted even more.

Soon after Pakistan's ambassador to the United States resigned in November after a Pakistani-American businessman accused him of being behind the infamous memo, many wondered if the resilient Zardari's time was finally up.

He is looking more vulnerable than ever. His dwindling popularity at home is matched by the all-time low in relations with major ally the United States.

A unilateral U.S. special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town in May reinforced suspicion that Islamabad is an unreliable partner in the war on militancy.

However, a U.S. cross-border air attack in November that mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers has given the military a chance to reassert itself after the humiliation of the bin Laden raid, leaving Zardari and other civilian leaders to be blamed for Pakistan's problems.


Criminal cases could also haunt Zardari, who earned the title "Mr. 10 Percent" while Bhutto was in power, based on allegations he demanded kickbacks on state contracts.

After his wife's government collapsed in late 1996, he was arrested and charged with corruption, such as kickbacks in deals involving a Swiss company.

Riaz Haq said...

I think those who advocate using aid as leverage should remember what US Ambassador Anne Patterson wrote back on Sept 23, 2009 in a cable leaked by Wikileaks. She said, "The Pakistani establishment, as we saw in 1998 with nuclear test, does not view assistance-even sizable assistance to their entities-as trade-off for national security".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's leaked emails of intelligence analysts at Stratfor about "journalist" Saleem Shahzad:

On Monday February 27th, 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files, over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The e-mails date between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.

Re: Pakistan Journalist Vanishes: Is the ISI Involved?
Released on 2012-03-08 09:00 GMT

Email-ID 1644311
Date 2011-06-01 15:50:16
The most interesting aspect is the killing of a journalist. Fine line
between an investigative journalist and spy. When you rattle around
topics nobody wants aired, you pay the price. Truth tellers always get
shot. Its much easier to lie or make up stories.

On 6/1/2011 8:46 AM, Sean Noonan wrote:

i don't think we're going anywhere with this SSS thing, though it is
On 6/1/11 8:41 AM, Fred Burton wrote:

The poor bastard went down the rabbit hole and was neutralized.

ISI is fully infiltrated by sympathizers and operatives. So, he was
killed by ISI. Will we find a smoking gun? No. Will anybody care
about this dude? Not really. The Agency lost an asset. Life goes
on. There is a reason the CIA set up unilateral operations in

Suggest everyone read David Ignatius new book on CIA NOC and front
company operations in Pakistan. Once again, he has gotten dead

On 6/1/2011 8:06 AM, Sean Noonan wrote:

the question, though, is still who did it.

It means very different things if it is the ISI, the traditional
military, or the jihadists. Then a question of who within those
groups can also mean different things. Not saying we can answer that
very easily, but who specifically killed who (with the support of
who) would explain if there is an issue or not. Operating between
the intelligence services and jihadists is a very, very dangerous
place- so it's not all that surprising that these deaths occur. And
as tensions go up, so will those deaths. But we would have to know
the same people were involved in the deaths to really know what 'the
issue' actually is.
On 6/1/11 7:59 AM, Kamran Bokhari wrote:

The issue is not the man himself (though I am personally spooked
out because I knew him and we met not too long ago and he wrote on
my fb wall a day before he went missing). Instead the issue is the
growing number of deaths of people who have been supportive of
jihadists. Recall KK and Col Imam and now Triple-S. The other
thing is that each of these 3 people were with the ISI at one
point. A former army chief confirmed to me that SSS was at one
point on the payroll. Each of these guys had a falling out with
the official ISI but maintained links deep within the service.
These guys have also had ties to jihadists of one type while
pissing off other more radical types.--....

Riaz Haq said...

Assange believes #Google is an extension US govt and instrument of US Policy. …

From Newsweek by Julian Assange of Wikileaks:

It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, D.C., including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel.

While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.

I put it aside until February 2012, when WikiLeaks—along with over thirty of our international media partners—began publishing the Global Intelligence Files: the internal email spool from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. One of our stronger investigative partners—the Beirut-based newspaper Al Akhbar— scoured the emails for intelligence on Jared Cohen.

The people at Stratfor, who liked to think of themselves as a sort of corporate CIA, were acutely conscious of other ventures that they perceived as making inroads into their sector. Google had turned up on their radar. In a series of colorful emails they discussed a pattern of activity conducted by Cohen under the Google Ideas aegis, suggesting what the “do” in “think/do tank” actually means.

Cohen’s directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and “corporate responsibility” work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states. Jared Cohen could be wryly named Google’s “director of regime change.”

According to the emails, he was trying to plant his fingerprints on some of the major historical events in the contemporary Middle East. He could be placed in Egypt during the revolution, meeting with Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose arrest and imprisonment hours later would make him a PR-friendly symbol of the uprising in the Western press. Meetings had been planned in Palestine and Turkey, both of which—claimed Stratfor emails—were killed by the senior Google leadership as too risky.

Looking for something more concrete, I began to search in WikiLeaks’ archive for information on Cohen. State Department cables released as part of Cablegate reveal that Cohen had been in Afghanistan in 2009, trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto U.S. military bases. In Lebanon, he quietly worked to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the “Higher Shia League.” And in London he offered Bollywood movie executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into their films, and promised to connect them to related networks in Hollywood.


If the future of the Internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world—in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union and even in Europe—for whom the Internet embodies the promise of an alternative to U.S. cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.

A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.

Extracted from When Google Met Wikileaks by Julian Assange published by OR Books. Newsweek readers can obtain a 20 percent discount on the cover price when ordering from the OR Books website and including the offer code word NEWSWEEK.

Riaz Haq said...

Zardari is angry with Pak Army after the Rangers' raid on the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) building over illegal construction and China Cutting – illegal use and sale of state owned land.

As a reminder, here's a story in NY Times from Aug 14, 2003:

Ms. Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who is jailed in Pakistan, were given six-month suspended sentences after an investigation by a Swiss magistrate. She was ordered to pay the Pakistani government nearly $12 million in restitution and was also ordered also ordered to hand over a necklace valued at $188,000.

Riaz Haq said...

Zardari is angry with Pak Army after the Rangers' raid on the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) building over illegal construction and China Cutting – illegal use and sale of state owned land.

As a reminder, here's a story in NY Times from Aug 14, 2003:

Ms. Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who is jailed in Pakistan, were given six-month suspended sentences after an investigation by a Swiss magistrate. She was ordered to pay the Pakistani government nearly $12 million in restitution and was also ordered also ordered to hand over a necklace valued at $188,000.

Riaz Haq said...

Why Wikileaks cables on Pakistan’s NADRA need serious attention

Below is the excerpt from the 2009 Assange-Imran interview, along with the leaked cables mentioning Malik and Gillani.

The interview excerpt:

Imran, we discovered a cable [09ISLAMABAD1642] in 2009 from the Islamabad Embassy. Prime Minister Gilani and Interior Minister Malik went into the embassy and offered to share NADRA – and NADRA is the national data and registration agency database. The system is currently connected through passport data but the government of Pakistan is adding voice and facial recognition capability and has installed a pilot biometric system as the Chennai border crossing, where 30,000 to 35,000 people cross each day. This NADRA system, that is the voting record system for all voters in Pakistan, and a front company was set up in the United Kingdom – International Identity Services, which was hired as the consultants for NADRA to squirrel out the NADRA data for all of Pakistan. What do you think about that? Is that a…? It seems to me that that is a theft of some national treasure of Pakistan, the entire Pakistani database registry of its people.

Excerpt from the leaked Cables:

Both PM Gilani and Interior Minister Malik pointed out that the National Data Registration Agency (NADRA) already collects a wide spectrum of information on Pakistani citizens, from driving records to DNA. Malik offered to share NADRA-generated information on Pakistani citizens, within the constraints imposed by privacy concerns. NADRA is at the heart of what the GOP intends to be an integrated border management system, Malik said, and suggested that API/PNR sharing could be a subset of this larger system. The system is currently connected through passport data, but the GOP is adding voice and facial recognition capability and has installed a pilot biometrics system at the Chaman border crossing, where 30-35,000 people cross each day. Reiterating that he welcomed both USG assistance and the arrival of a DHS team to discuss PNR, Malik agreed to set up a joint U.S.-Pakistan task force to work out a way forward.

(S//NF) Comment: The Secretary’s visit was an essential and well-received step to rebuild the trust between DHS and the GOP that will be necessary to reach an eventual deal on API/PNR. GOP officials are clearly concerned about the political fallout if any deal to share API/PNR data became public. Malik was direct in expressing his need for model agreements or other legal frameworks to help allay concerns of a politically embarrassing court challenge to API/PNR data sharing and the potential issues with airlines of third countries. While this information will no doubt be helpful, Post strongly recommends further political-level bridge building before we can effectively engage at the technical level. On senior officials’ broad requests for more assistance on border security, we caution that the openness we regularly see in high-level meetings is often not followed through at the institutional level. Post will work with DHS, State, and DoD (all of whom are already working on border security and training issues) to target DHS assistance clearly so as to complement our existing security and training programs. End Comment.

Riaz Haq said...

Wikileaks: Pakistani journalists Ahmad Zuberi and Talat Husain work for Stratfor, a US CIA front.

I'd like to send the signed pdf back to Mr Zuberi. Is that OK with you?
I'll cc you of course.

-----Original Message-----
From: Kamran Bokhari []
Sent: Saturday, October 31, 2009 3:33 PM
To: 'Meredith Friedman'
Subject: RE: News services

Hi Meredith,

Here is the revised draft of the MoU from Ahmad A. Zuberi, Managing
Director of Recorder Television Network. His email address is

As indicated in the MoU, Syed Talat Hussain, Executive Director, News &
Current Affairs (my source) will be the PoC on behalf of AaJ TV. His email
address is

Once you have the final draft with George signature's ready, email it to
Zuberi and cc Talat and myself. Asif A. Zuberi, CEO of Recorder Television
Network will sign it and send it back. Let me know if you have any



Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network
From: "Meredith Friedman"
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 12:28:09 -0500
Subject: RE: News services

Good news - will look for the adjusted version - pls cc me on your next
email to him so he knows who I am and I can get the agreement signed here.
I'm VP of Communications.

From: Kamran Bokhari []
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 1:22 PM
To: Meredith Friedman
Subject: Re: News services
Meredith, Aaj TV's CEO, Ahmad Zuberi, has signed off on the agreement. He
has made some minor adjustments to the draft such as the deal will be with
Business Recorder Group (parent company of Aaj TV). Waiting on him to send
the adjusted version back to me. Will forward once I get it.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network
From: "Meredith Friedman"
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:17:49 -0500
Subject: RE: News services

That's great Kamran.

From: Kamran Bokhari []
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 12:11 PM
To: Meredith Friedman
Subject: Re: News services
Hi Meredith,

Sounds great but dtill waiting on the approval from the CEO of Aaj TV.
let you know as soon as I hear from my contact.



Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

From: Kamran Bokhari []
Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 3:29 AM
To: Meredith Friedman
Subject: Re: News services
Hi Meredith,

I just got out of a meeting with the top director dealing with news and
current affairs at Aaj TV and he at his level is extremely interested in
forming the relationship we are seeking. I shared with him a generic
of the sample MoU (minus the details of APA), which he has sent to his
principals at their corporate headquarters in Karachi. He expects them to
sign off on it. We will know in about 24 hours. If we can get this deal
them it will be perfect because Aaj has the best quality of information
it comes to geopolitical developments. They have a great source network in
the areas we are interested in: NWFP, FATA, Baluchistan, Kashmir, army,
intelligence, nuclear establishment, Afghanistan, and Iran. Aaj produces
best quality news and analyses. Will let you know as soon as I hear back
from my contact.