WikiLeaks shows America’s imperious attitude to Pakistan

The WikiLeaks US embassy cables reveal just how dangerously involved the Americans are in every aspect of Pakistan’s affairs.

Simon Tisdall

LONDON, UK—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 disappear 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.

(Simon Tisdall is anassistant editor of the Guardian and a foreign affairs columnist. He was previously a foreign leader writer for the paper and has also served as its foreign editor and its US editor, based in Washington DC. He was the Observer’s foreign editor from 1996-98).

 

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Comments

  • Briglatif  On December 5, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Yes, that ‘s the clear first and the last impression one gets from the leaks about Pakistan. I don’t understand on what legal, moral or diplomatic grounds the American government can/will justify this much interference in the affairs of a sovereign country.

  • Ahmed  On December 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    T IS SINCE 1948 AND EVEN AYUB KHAN AGREED ON CERTAIN POINTS WITH AMERICA WITHOUT GOVT OF KHAWAJA NAZIMUDDIN APPROVED IT.SOME TIMES EVEN AMERICAN DIPLOMATS SHOWED SURPRISE ON THE ATTITUDE OF PAKISATNI POLITICIANS AND GENERALS.THEY GAVE UP THEMSELVES TO AMERICANS EVEN VERY JUNIOR OFFICERS.ONE VICE CONSUL MEANS GRADE 17 OFFICERS ONCE SHOWED HIS DISGUST HOW FORMER MINISTER INTERIOR IMPLORED HIM TO SAVE HIS SKIN.THIS SHOWS THAT OUR LEADERS BOTH CIVILIAN AN DMILITARY ARE UNDER CONSTANT DELUSION THAT THEY ARE WORKING FRO SUPER POWER.ONE SATFF MEMBER ONCE ASKED THE DIRECTOR AMERICA SIN FROEIGN OFFICE TO DINE WITH HIM,HE SHUNTED HIM AND ASKED HOW HE DARED.HE TOLD,HE DINED WITH MINISTER EDUCATION,LABOR AND MANY OTHER LEADERS TAHN WHY NOT HIM.
    IT CAN BE JUDGED FROM THIS ATTITUDE,HOW WE TREAT AMERICANS.THE MINSITERS AND OPPOSITIONS LEADERS WERE INVITED IN OCTOBER 2008 BY AMERICANS ON DINNER AND TALK BY GENERAL PETRAUS,NONE OF THEM WAS RECIEVED BY THE AMBASSADOR EVEN LUMINARIES LIKE AYAZ AMEER WAS PRESENT THERE.ONE VERY UNKNOWN FIGURE MNA FROM Q-LEAGUE ASKED IRRITATING QUESTIONS FROM GENERAL,LIKE WHY OPIUM HAS SHOWN STAEDY GROWTH DURING YOUR OCCUPATION.AT THE END OF SHOW AMBASSADOR ANNE HERSELF GAVE SEND OFF TO THE MNA ASIF.THIS IS HOW AMERICANS WORK.
    AAS

  • Laila  On December 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    In recent years, American strategists have propagated the need to redraw political boundaries of Islamic states along ethnic lines. Driven by paranoia with resurgent Islam and their obsession to control this very important oil rich region, they seek to legitimize their actions by labeling them as effort to dispense justice for `oppressed Muslim minorities’.
    The underlying belief is that smaller entities would be easier to micromanage through puppet regimes, enabling them to contain militancy and squeeze into extinction Jehadi outfits by choking their funding.
    This `remapping’ involves splintering the Muslim world and creating sovereign states of Balochistan, Kurdistan and Arab Shia State by carving out and unifying Pakistani and Iranian Baluchistan territories to create Free Balochistan; unifying Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan to create Greater Kurdistan and slicing off Eastern Saudi Arabia to unite it with Southern Iraq to create Shia Arab State. It is no coincidence that these territories hold the bulk of the world oil and host anti-imperialist movements.
    “The global interests of the United States have routinely propelled it into adversarial engagement with the Muslims, losing their hearts and minds.”
    Brilliant thinking! This promises them a picture-perfect Muslim world, tailored to their needs. The difficulty, however, is that their undertaking is too ambitious, out of sync with reality and unachievable. And this mindset is bound to pitch Christianity and Judaism versus Islam, a horrifying scenario.
    The global interests of the United States have routinely propelled it into adversarial engagement with the Muslims, losing their hearts and minds. More often than not, Israeli interests define U.S. foreign policy direction, particularly where their interests are congruent. Both the US and Israel have eyes on the oil reserves of Caspian Sea and Central Asia, they need an energy pipeline project transiting through Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan and desperately want a wider security shield for Israel, which involves denuclearizing Pakistan.

  • Dr Mehdi  On December 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Our Military has never shyed from showing off to Americans and has back stabbed many in the process – – The current civilian administration of President Asif too could have been a victim. The sad part is that there always are civilians/politicians waiting in aisles to facilitate the takeover but in this particular scenario Mr Isfandfandyar was not all too willing knowing fully well the absurdity of the proposal from Military.

    The Military should have the balls and might as well run the show from the front rather than hiding behind the skirts of a civilian administration

    Tsk tsk

  • Inam Khan  On December 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    We landed in this situation due to poor leadership…………..Inam Khan

  • khurshid Anwer  On December 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Excerpts from ‘The lid that blew’ – Tallat Azim
    Nation Dec 04.

    Quote: Taken by surprise, the Pakistani nation has read with astonishment if not disbelief, the aanian jaanian and innermost desires of all those who are at its helm of affairs. The tantalising peep into private conversations between American diplomats and Pakistan’s who-is-who has disclosed a mindset that is anything but independent, on our side that is. Among many other things there is the Talpur tamasha. According to the leaks, President Asif Zardari would like his sister Faryal Talpur to become President of Pakistan, if something were to happen to him. This is taking the dynasties in democracies to the next level. The will to continue in power even from the grave is insatiable apparently. Ascendancy to high offices here depends being born in a family, which likes remaining in the seat of power at all costs. It seems we can be divided into just two categories of people in this country, the rulers and the ruled, but with no rules however.General Kayani’s role has been like that of the Mogul Queen Nur Jahan who would tap on Emperor Jahangir’s shoulder from behind the veil to convey her agreement or otherwise to a decision in court, General Kayani opined who he thought was the best option for being President, in case ….., thank God for small mercies that he did not nominate his sister. The American ambassador, who sent all this information back to Washington, also wrote: “Pakistan has solid albeit weak institutions and a population with a proven resiliency to withstand everything from earthquakes to kleptocracy”. Unquote.

    Despite the confidences shared with ‘A’ now made public, it appears that PPP bosses are not willing to admit and/or learn. After all, wasn’t Benazir known as the ‘neverdoneanythingwrong’ Bhutto.

    Anchor Person (A P) – Now that the beans in the diplomatic pouch have been spilt, what is the response of your party.

    PPP Spokes Person (PPP S P)– We are a sovereign State, President Zardari is the head of State, Prime Minister Gilani is the head of Government, we trust what they say and not what is said in some dubious cables.

    A P – What about the PM telling ‘A’ to go ahead with the drone attacks while he would strongly protest against them in the House and then ignore them.

    PPP S P – We are a – – – – — – – – – – – – – blah, blah.

    A P – What about ‘big brother’ King Abdullah’s derogatory remarks about President Zardari, not to be repeated in polite company.

    PPP S P – We are a – – – – — – – – – – – – – blah, blah.

    A P – What about ‘A’ saying, “Zardari is walking tall these days, hopefully not too tall to forget his promise to kayani and to us on an immunity deal with Musharraf”.

    PPP S P – We are a – – – – – – – – – – – – – – blah, blah.

    A P – What about her opinion that Pakistan’s civilian government remains weak, ineffectual and corrupt.

    PPP S P – We are a – – – – — – – – – – – – – blah, blah.

    A P – Also that Zardari does not have leadership qualities and admits to not having any experience of high office.

    PPP S P – But he is a past master at making and breaking deals

    Khurshid Anwer

  • siddiquimy  On December 6, 2010 at 4:43 am

    There are no surprises in “Leaks”; all of us knew about what has been happening but none of us had the courage to say it loudly,,,this is our own fault so why blame Zardaris or Shariffs or X,Y…WE ARE ALL IN IT…….
    Have we or have we done anything to stem all this all these years ? Look at our education system ! We complaint about high fee, about poor teachers ; about alienation of our young generation…….but do we anything ??????????????
    We continue to vote in the same bogus and dishonest people; we ourselves contribute to this mess but blame others
    One reaps what one sows…………….we are past masters in blame game; we deserve what we have in Leadership and we deserve what we lament about
    Just pause and look at our children….are we teaching them the right values? Do you really think they can change the future of this country ? WHO IS AT FAULT ? Americans / Zionista/Hindus…….everybody is at fault and our sworn enemy ……..ONLY WE are cosher and innocent
    We all should look into the mirror and STOP blaming others

  • Anthony  On December 6, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Hello Yasmeen

    Don’t you think this may have been a part of the plot: to make Pakistan more wary of America, and perhaps more friendly towards Israel as it calls for action against Iran?

    Take care,

    Anthony

  • S U Turkman  On December 7, 2010 at 3:20 am

    So USA is an Imperial Power not recognizing Sovereignty of Pakistan but a very stupid one also because she not only has spent hundreds of billions of her Dollars but also keeps donating billions to Pakistan and Pakistan Army that has been consistently back-stabbing her for the last 9 years.
    USA is after Oil and Gas in small countries north of Afghanistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, right?
    But could anybody tell me, why would USA not just take over tiny little Qatar a country of 800,000 people (including Temporary Workers) that has more Oil and Gas than all the countries described instead of going through all this trouble and getting her Soldiers killed at night when Pak Jackals enter Afghanistan and Sneak Attack them, while they are asleep?
    Your Conspiracy Theorist, who came with this were so ignorant, they did not know, anything about Qatar and didn’t also know, USA does not need Natural Gas because she is self-sufficient in it.
    You people call Iraq and Afghanistan US Occupied countries because US Army is there but you do not realize, Troops of 55 more nations are also there and 6 of those nations are Moslim.
    If Iraq and Afghanistan are still under US Occupation despite that they have their own Army and Police and also Elections have been held there twice or more than Japan, Germany, Italy, Denmark, UK, Belgium, Holland, S Korea etc are also occupied by USA because her Imperial Army has not left from Europe and Japan since WW II and S Korea since 1953.
    Is any country out of those is poorer than you?
    Are not Japanese and most of the Europeans richer than Americans?
    Could you tell us, what kind of Occupation is this that Imperial USA is letting her Subject become richer and make her owe them Money?

    • IMRAN  On December 7, 2010 at 5:44 am

      This asshole of an Indian Agent need to be blocked from the blog.

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