Posts Tagged ‘Kayani’


Express/EPA: "Areh, you....bloody...Wikileaks..."

It has been a few days since the latest Wikileaks fiasco began, and news channels, online media sources and Twitter have been flooded with constant updates.

At this time, I really would love it if I didn’t have to see 1) the word Wikileaks followed by “dump” 2) the word Wikileaks followed by “state secrets revealed” (I mean, really? Berlosconi partying? Sarkozy chasing puppies?), 3) photos of Julian Assange in Zoolander-style poses, or 4) just the word Wikileaks.

However, since the “dump” in question on Wednesday had to do with Pakistan, I did a little sifting so that you, dear readers, wouldn’t have to. Here’s a run-down:

The Obvious

1. Hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid money were not used for its intended purpose. Yes, because U.S. aid to Pakistan has been spent efficiently for decades.

2. In a private meeting with former U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson, COAS Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Chief Gen. Shuja Pasha “complained vociferously” about provisions in the aid package calling for military accountability towards the civilian government (via The News). If you look up military accountability in the dictionary, you might find a photo of Kayani showcasing a “choice” finger.

3. The U.S. is frustrated with Pakistan. There is mutual distrust. They no likey each other.

The Somewhat Interesting

1. During the judicial crisis in March 2009, Gen. Kayani hinted to Ambassador Patterson that he may ‘reluctantly’ have to urge Zardari to resign if conditions deteriorate and “indicated that Asfandyar Wali Khan [leader of the ANP] or someone else broadly acceptable (though not Nawaz Sharif) might be an appropriate replacement,” [via the Express Tribune]. This would not have been an “official” coup and would have left the official PPP government (with Gilani) in place, so elections would not have to take place. According to Dawn, “The implied message in Gen Kayani’s contingency planning was immediately read by the ambassador as a plea to intervene and compel both parties to back down or else the army would play its role.”

2. In February 2009, Zardari told his son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari that if he was assassinated, then Bilawal should name Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur as president. According to Express, Kayani “told U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson that Talpur would be a better president than her brother.” Apparently we are the Islamic Monarchy of Pakistan.

The Under-Highlighted

Perhaps the most telling cable leak was the revelation that the United States were aware of the military’s extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses during operations in Swat and Malakand, but  purposefully kept quiet, [remember this video taken by mobile phone?]. The September 2009 memo stated,

Senior military commanders have equally and repeatedly stressed their concerns that the courts are incapable of dealing with many of those detained on the battlefield and their fears that if detainees are handed over to the courts and formally charged, they will be released, placing Pakistan Army and FC troops at risk.

This belief by commanding officers that the judicial system was incapable of prosecuting detainees, as well as the belief that revenge killings were “key to maintaining a unit’s honor,” were reportedly reasons cited by Patterson that many of these alleged extrajudicial killings and abuse happened. However, while the U.S. privately expressed concern about these murders, they “deemed it was better not to comment publicly in order to allow the Pakistani army to take action on its own,” noted Declan Walsh of the Guardian.

Moreover, while the U.S. discussed proposing alternatives to military commanders in the hopes reducing human rights abuses, the memo ultimately advised that the U.S. “avoid comment on these incidents to the extent possible,” in order to preserve goodwill and resist criticizing this strategic ally too much.

For me, this leak further emphasizes the holes in the U.S. rhetoric towards Pakistan. The relationship is built on short-term strategic interests, despite crows from both governments to the contrary. This is not surprising from a realpolitik perspective, but it should nevertheless be a reminder to constantly read between the lines – to not generate more conspiracy theories, but to remember that every country will operate in a way that serves its best interest. Simon Tisdall at the Guardian makes this point when he noted,

All great powers intrude in pursuit of their own interests; it’s what they do – and picking up where the British left off, the U.S. 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.

The biggest casualties from this constant game, noted Tisdall, are ordinary Pakistanis, who suffer grievously from terrorism, “a ravaged economy, acute poverty and lack of education; and in the all but forgotten but still terrible aftermath of this year’s floods.” I’d have to agree.

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Strategic Dialogue. Sustained partnership. Long-term commitment.

If I hear those terms used in three consecutive sentences again, I may have an aneurysm.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that we have all been over-saturated with news of Wednesday’s high-level talks between the United States and Pakistan. Prior to the dialogue, Islamabad presented a 56-pagewish list” to Washington, detailing their priorities and demands – including a desire for a civilian nuclear deal, drone strike technology, and aid for development issues like education, agriculture, as well as $647 million for dams.

Following the talks on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly spoke of having a partnership that stands “the test of time,” while foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he was “a happy man.”

According to the Washington Post, the Pakistani delegation said it was satisfied with U.S. pledges on aid delivery, after Clinton announced $125 million to help Pakistan overcome its power crisis. The Post added,

Most of the agreements announced after the one-day meeting had been decided earlier, including disbursement of a new $7.5-billion, five-year U.S. aid package for Pakistan’s energy, water, agricultural and education sectors. Long-standing Pakistani complaints about nearly $1 billion in promised but unpaid U.S. reimbursements for Pakistan’s counterinsurgency operations had been largely resolved, with the remaining money to be paid by the end of June.

So yes, as expected, a diplomatic “We’re Just Not That Into You” move on the civilian nuclear deal and drone strike technology, but a thumbs up on the substantial topics, i.e. development. That is certainly a plus, depending on how well it’s implemented and allocated.

With the imagined strains of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” in the background, it seems the media is as excited to depict this wonderous state of affairs as the delegations are. Please observe:

Clinton: "Yes, pookie poo?" Qureshi: "Just looking into your eyes shnookie."

Qureshi: "Oh lookie! It's a leprechaun and a rainbow!" Clinton: "And a puppy with a bow!"

Qureshi: "Hahaha. You're so FUNNY, shmoopsy!" Clinton: "I'm just catching your grease in my glass! Snookie!"

Personally, I’m far more interested to be a fly on the wall during COAS Gen. Ashfaq Kayani‘s closed door sessions with the U.S. military brass, especially given Pakistan’s strategic interests in Afghanistan vis-a-vis India. See if the below photo offers any clues for how well it’s going so far:

[Insert your own caption here]

"I'm not your friend, buddy!" "I'm not your buddy, friend!"

Disclaimer: Please excuse the snarkiness.

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U.S. Raids in Pakistan Intensify

Another day, another U.S. missile attack in Pakistan. On Friday, media outlets reported that five militants and seven civilians were killed near Miranshah in North Waziristan in a suspected U.S. drone attack. According to BBC News, “Early reports said all, or nearly all, of the dead were Taliban fighters killed by one missile. But later reports from the scene said missiles hit two buildings – in one, three women and two children were killed, and in the other seven Taliban militants died.” Friday’s attack was the fifth time since the beginning of this month that U.S. forces have carried out cross border strikes, [also see CHUP’s recent post]. It came just one day after the NY Times released a front-page story, reporting that President Bush secretly approved orders in July to allow [for the first time] American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government. [Image from BBC News]

Not surprisingly, Pakistani officials reacted with outrage to recent news of U.S. raids as well as to this new development. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Ashfaq Kayani released a rare statement “lashing out” at the United States. According to the Associated Press, Kayani on Wednesday, “in an unusually strong statement,” asserted that “a raid last week into Pakistan’s South Waziristan region killed innocent civilians and could backfire on the anti-terror allies.” He added, “Falling for short term gains while ignoring our long term interest is not the right way forward…To succeed, the Coalition would be required to display strategic patience and help the other side the way they want it, rather than adopting a unilateral approach.” [Image from Reuters]

According to BBC News, “Pakistan has said it will not allow foreign forces onto its territory and that it will vigorously protect its sovereignty. It says that cross border raids are not the best way of fighting the ‘war against terror.'” The country’s main opposition party, the PML-N, called on Pakistan’s parliament to meet in a joint session to devise a strategy to deal with these recent attacks. According to a separate AP piece, “Pakistani officials warn that the strikes — especially ones involving ground troops — will fan anti-American sentiment in the country and wreck efforts to win over moderate tribal leaders and bring economic development to the impoverished border region.”

Such sentiment was also voiced by Pakistan’s news media on Friday. In an editorial entitled, “Unwise U.S. Policy,” Dawn noted,

It is astonishing that America should fail to grasp what France has the good sense to appreciate. On Tuesday the French Foreign Office said attacks like the one by a drone in FATA on Monday caused human tragedies and undermined international efforts to fight terror.

The News, in their editorial, wrote:

Many [ordinary Pakistanis] — perhaps most — of them are strongly opposed to the spread of Talibanization and extremist influence across the country; people who may be described as ‘moderates’. Many of them have no sympathy for the mullahs and their burning of girls’ schools and their medieval mindset. But if you bomb a moderate sensibility often enough it has a tendency to lose its sense of objectivity…If America bombs moderate sensibilities often enough you may find that its actions are the best recruiting sergeant that the extremists ever had…

This is a situation that is unlikely to bode well for U.S.-Pakistan relations. According to the aforementioned NY Times article, there is an American view that Pakistan lacks the will and ability to combat militants. An anonymous U.S. official told the news agency, “The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable…We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued.” What is both disturbing and interesting is that this is the same “cowboy mentality” that exacerbated anti-American perceptions throughout the world in the first place. Although Washington says it is fighting a war for hearts and minds, it fails to comprehend the very premise behind such a notion. Unilateral, unauthorized operations may win some tangible battles, but are ultimately detrimental to the greater ideological war. It is surprising that after five years in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration still lacks the foresight necessary to realize the repurcussions of their actions.

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According to the Associated Press today, a major opposition party, the Muttahida-Qaumi Movement (MQM) voiced their backing for PPP co-Chairman, Asif Ali Zardari to become Pakistan’s next president, “as the power struggle following the resignation of Pervez Musharraf intensified.” The news agency added,

Zardari has played down speculation that he covets the top job. However, opposition backing will strengthen his hand in a struggle with coalition partner Nawaz Sharif over a compromise candidate to fill the post and the even more urgent issue of restoring judges purged by the former army strongman.

The AP cited a leader of the MQM, Haider Razvi, who said the party “wanted Zardari as president because of his past sacrifices and for his ‘wisdom and vision’ in handling Musharraf’s ouster.” The official advocated the next president be from outside Punjab, and noted that Zardari – a Sindhi – was “most eligible” for the job. The MQM, added the news agency, “dominates Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, and other urban areas in the southern province of Sindh and recently buried its long animosity with Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party.”

An article released by Geo TV’s website today reported that Zardari thanked MQM chief Altaf Hussein for his “positive role during the political developments over the last few days.” In a statement released Wednesday, Zardari asserted, “I am thankful to all democratic forces including MQM that helped coalition government achieve key objective of forcing President Musharraf to resign.”

As speculation over Pakistan’s next president is likely to increase, news of clashes within the coalition government continues. According to the NY Times on Wednesday, “Political order in Pakistan frayed further on Tuesday, the day after President Pervez Musharraf resigned, raising questions about who in the deeply divided civilian government would be in charge and for how long.” The news agency added:

The instant deterioration in relations within the government became evident when Nawaz Sharif, the leader of one of the two major parties in the governing coalition, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, walked out of a meeting here over the restoration of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who had been dismissed by Mr. Musharraf. He then headed back to his home in Lahore, a four-hour drive away.

An article in The News today seemed to affirm these reports. According to the piece, “Because of the recurrence of their [the PPP and PML-N] differences on the judges issues, the situation at one stage was so tense between the two leading coalition partners that some of those present in the meeting room of the Zardari House feared that the coalition might collapse sooner than later.” Dawn, in its coverage, echoed that coalition leaders failed to resolve their differences on the judiciary restoration, since both sides “refused to relax” their stance on the issue. The news agency added, “Sources told Dawn that Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan saved the day for the coalition by offering to play the role of a mediator between the two parties.”

What exactly is the issue over the judiciary? While Nawaz Sharif centered his political campaign around the reinstatement of the judges suspended by Musharraf, particularly Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Zardari “has made it clear that he does not want Mr. Chaudhry back on the bench,” noted the NY Times. The news agency added, “He prefers the chief justice installed by Mr. Musharraf after he imposed emergency rule in November, Abdul Hamid Dogar.” Given the iconic status of Chaudhry for the lawyers’ movement, compromising on his reinstatement seems unlikey. In fact, noted the Times, the movement regards Mr. Dogar as an illegal appointee. However, noted the news agency, “Mr. Dogar comes from Sindh Province, Mr. Zardari’s political base, and the two men are friendly.” [Image from Dawn]

Zardari’s reported unease with reappointing Chaudhry lies in the fear that the chief justice might undo an amnesty agreement that absolved the PPP co-chairman of corruption charges, part of a package arranged by Musharraf when Zardari returned to Pakistan with his late wife, former PM Benazir Bhutto. Such a development would of course complicate Zardari’s reported aspirations for the presidency.

Although officials like the ANP’s Asfandiyar Wali Khan and Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani have played down the disputes between coalition members, it seems we may be headed towards yet another political deadlock, a development that has serious ramifications for the future of this government. That is, of course, unless a miraculous compromise is reached during the next coalition meeting, slated to take place Friday. Dawn reported today that the ANP leader and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman “are expected to come up with a solution” for that session.

Meanwhile, the security situation remains increasingly volatile. According to media coverage, a suicide attack in the FATA region Tuesday, for which the [Pakistani] Taliban claimed responsibility, killed 32 people and wounded 55 in Dera Ismail Khan, a town near Waziristan. The NY Times cited a police chief who said the bombing “was part of continuing sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiites.” Many of the dead were Shiites, media sources reported, although two police officers were also killed in the attack. The NY Times also reported, In another unexpected move after Mr. Musharraf’s resignation, the chief of staff of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, visited the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Tuesday…the first time the Pakistani general had attended a meeting of the commission in Kabul since assuming command of the Pakistani military in November.” [Image from NY Times]

How do issues related to security and economic problems factor into the political environment? Simple – The longer this coalition government argue over the current judiciary issue, the more distracted they are from these other problems. Moreover, a fracture in the coalition, as has occured in the past, would create a power vacuum that would inevitably have dangerous repurcussions for Pakistan’s volatile political, economic and security environment.

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Once again, security developments dominated press coverage of Pakistan on Thursday. According to Pakistan’s Daily Times and The News, the Chief of Army staff [the new head of the military after Musharraf took off his uniform], General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that military operations, though part of the national effort, “are only a means to an end.” Kayani made these remarks while visiting “forward” posts in Swat. According to news agencies, “Gen Kayani acknowledged the support of the people of Swat, which he said had helped the army restore normalcy to the area. Talking to local notables, he stressed the need for them to contribute to peace and welfare of the people.”Meanwhile, the LA Times reported the U.S. Pentagon is making plans to send military personnel to Pakistan to train the country’s security forces, “taking advantage of promising ties with the country’s new top general.” The news agency noted, “The Bush administration has avoided using American troops in Pakistan because it would be deeply unpopular with many Pakistanis. The plans would limit the U.S. mission to instructing Pakistani trainers, officials said recently, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proposals are not final. Those Pakistanis then would train their country’s forces.” An anonymous Defense official told the LA Times, “The U.S. has to be careful of what it is doing inside Pakistan. If it becomes obvious, that’s one of the things that could undermine the stability of the Pakistan government. It could provoke a response that could easily get out of hand.”

Kayani has reportedly been a major influence behind these training efforts. Since Musharraf relinquished his army uniform, the new army chief has taken steps to redeem the military and move it “away from its focus on preparedness against rival India and toward fighting Islamic extremists.” Much of the fighting has been concentrated along the border with Afghanistan, and the militant stronghold is located in southern Waziristan. On Thursday, BBC News ran an interesting article, entitled, “Why Waziristan Matters,” discussing the implications of the region. BBC’s Jill McGivering wrote, “The battle for control in South Waziristan is critical. It is described as one of the most important frontlines in the fight against Islamic extremism, a new proxy war.” Militants in this area, she noted, “are drawn from a cluster of local tribes and embedded in local communities.” Control of Waziristan, McGivering added, is key to controlling Afghanistan as well as stabilizing the northern regions of Pakistan. [Image courtesy of the Daily Times]

[Forgot to also note an interesting commentary in the Washington Post today by columnist David Ignatius on Kayani.]

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