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US Ambassador Holds Secret Meetings With Pakistani Politicians To Save Zardari

Posted by yourpakistan on November 18, 2010


In the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009, US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson drove to an area outside the capital Islamabad called Chak Shehzad. This is where the city’s famous and wealthy maintain farmhouses. In one such house owned by a Member of National Assembly Ms. Donya Aziz who is a member of PML, the party once headed by former President Pervez Musharraf, Amb. Patterson held an unannounced and apparently secret meeting with PML’s chief Shujaat Hussain and Ch. Pervez Ilahi. Ms. Aziz and her mother, Mrs. Shehla Aziz, had reportedly organized several such meetings between her party leaders and the US ambassador. Both the US Embassy and the party have kept the meetings under wraps.

Apparently, the secret meeting was part of Amb. Patterson’s new campaign. She is now lobbying Pakistani politicians to support embattled President Asif Zardari, who came to power through an arrangement brokered by the governments of the United States and Britain with Mr. Musharraf. She requested Chaudhry Shujaat, an influential elder statesman, to support Mr. Zardari. She also requested that he publicly support President Obama’s new Afghan strategy unveiled on Dec. 2, 2009.

[Mr. Shujaat is reported to have carefully listened to the US ambassador but did not commit to a course of action.] It is not surprising that the Ambassador of the United States in Pakistan is desperate to ensure support for Mr. Zardari, a man tainted by corruption and ineptitude. The only quality that endears him to Ms. Patterson is that he is willing to turn a nuclear power like Pakistan into an American client state subservient to US interests in Afghanistan and India, as can be deduced from a series of policy statements and actions by his government since it ascended power. [UPDATE: In October 2010, a book published in US revealed that President Zardari told CIA he was little concerned about innocent Pakistani deaths in CIA-run missile attacks inside Pakistan. His government did not confirm or deny the report, which was a front-page story in Pakistan.]

Under Ms. Patterson’s guidance, senior US diplomats posted to various Pakistani cities started a new practice. They began taking turns to issue belligerent press statements on Pakistani soil claiming without evidence that Pakistan is sheltering al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. In one of those statements they indirectly threatened to bomb a major Pakistani city, Quetta in the southwest. These allegations drew little reaction from a government in Islamabad that is actively pursuing a US agenda.

Last week, PakNationalists.com revealed that a handful of federal Interior Ministry officials received bribes exceeding US$250,000 to issue illegal arms permits to a US-connected private security contractor, in a case that Ms. Patterson was personally involved in. Pakistani law enforcement officials have arrested a senior Interior Minister official in the case, who is a Personal Secretary to the State Minister for Interior.

Pakistani officials have already told CIA chief Leon Panetta on Nov. 20 that CIA operatives based in Afghanistan are involved in the wave of terrorism inside Pakistan. There are still pockets inside Pakistan, including official buildings and military buildings, which are occupied by US operatives disguised as US government and military representatives running counterinsurgency training programs. These arrangements were approved by former president Musharraf, who kept them secret from Pakistanis. On Dec. 8, American diplomats seated in two jeeps belonging to US Consulate in Lahore locked themselves up inside the vehicles and refused to cooperate with Pakistani Military Police officers manning a check post. The Americans were trying to enter a military garrison in Lahore. Back up was called and Pakistani soldiers surrounded the cars for three hours and were ready to break the doors when the provincial Punjab government officials rescued the US diplomats at the last minute, allowing them safe passage without inspection.

Apparently, the US ‘diplomats’ were carrying documents or equipment that they didn’t want revealed to the Pakistanis. In July 2009, four US diplomats were arrested in the Maximum Security Zone around Pakistan’s premier nuclear research installations in the central part of the country. US diplomats were traveling in cars carrying fake number plates. They were unable to provide a plausible explanation for their presence in the area. Again, they were released after a four-hour interrogation because of the intervention of the federal government of Mr. Zardari.

In May, a US woman diplomat was caught arranging a quiet [read ’secret’] meeting between an Indian diplomat and several senior Pakistani government officials at her residence. An address in Islamabad was identified as a venue for the secret meeting. The American diplomat in question knew there was no chance the Indian would get to meet the senior Pakistanis in normal circumstances considering the nature of Pak-Indian relations. Nor was it possible to arrange this meeting during a high visibility event, like an embassy reception. This private meeting arranged by the US diplomat was the only way for the Indian to meet a group of senior Pakistani government officials. After the incident, Pakistan Foreign Office issued a terse statement warning all government officials to refrain from such direct contact with foreign diplomats in unofficial settings without prior intimation to their departments.

In the latest example of covert US activities inside Pakistan, a Pakistani man’s good judgment led to the arrest of five US citizens of Arab and Pakistani descent today in Punjab province. Documents detailing sensitive Pakistani buildings and installations were recovered from them. All of them came from the US and claimed association with a little known American Islamic organization. Interestingly, US military and intelligence officials are keen to shift the war from Afghanistan to this part of Pakistan for many reasons, but especially as a way to punish the families of the officer cadre of the Pakistani military. Indian security experts have been counseling their American counterparts for years that the war on terror should be taken to the Punjab province if the Pakistani military were to be sufficiently pressured to cooperate with US regional objectives.

With the kind of activities that US diplomatic and military staffers are pursuing in Pakistan, coupled with a wave of terror in which arms and financing is coming from US-controlled Afghanistan – where anti-Pakistan elements, including the Indians, have been given space – Pakistan appears exposed to unprecedented foreign interference and is in dire need of a strong federal government that can rescue the country from Washington’s dubious multipronged war in Afghanistan.

 

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