US, Israel discussed impact of Musharraf’s fall on India-Pakistan ties: WikiLeaksBy Arun Kumar, IANS
Monday, November 29, 2010
WASHINGTON - Discussing the impact of the possible downfall of then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, a top US official briefed the Israeli intelligence chief in August 2007 on US efforts to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan, a leaked document shows.
“Turning to India, Under Secretary Burns noted that US-Indian economic cooperation is growing, and that the USG (US Government) is working effectively to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan,” said a State Department cable leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
The cable basically minutes an August 17, 2007 meeting between Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Meir Dagan, then chief of Israeli spy agency Mossad on a wide range of issues including the situation in South Asia.
The leaked cable shows Burns detailed US efforts to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan after the Mossad chief alerted the US about Musharraf’s possible downfall.
“Dagan said that President Musharraf is losing control, and that some of his coalition partners could threaten him in the future. The key question, Dagan said, is whether Musharraf retains his commander-in-chief role in addition to his role as president,” the cable reported.
“If not, he will have problems. Dagan observed that there has been an increase in the number of attempts on Musharraf’s life, and wondered whether he will survive the next few years,” it said.
“Under Secretary Burns replied that South Asia has assumed vital importance in American foreign policy since September 11.”
“The US is committed to denying Afghanistan as a safe-haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda activity. The USG will continue to support Pakistani President Musharraf, and is seeking to boost his military defensive capabilities.
“At the same time, the US is encouraging Pakistan and Afghanistan to work with each other militarily,” the cable said.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ), in a meeting in May 2005 with a visiting National Defence University delegation, pushed the US to supply F-16 combat jets to Pakistan despite opposition from India.
In fact, bin Zayed went on to congratulate Washington for its decision to allow US firms to bid for contracts to provide F-16s and other defence technology to Pakistan.
“It was important to support Musharraf as he battled the terrorists, he emphasised,” the cable said, suggesting: “While the Indians had and would continue to balk at the decision, the region needed Musharraf to stay strong.”
“There was no alternative leader in sight, MbZ opined. Besides, he continued, the F-16 decision would not tip the military balance between India and Pakistan,” the cable said.
“Even if it had, India’s strength as a stable democracy would ensure that it would not ever be in as ‘risky’ a situation as its neighbour. MbZ then slapped his knee and said ‘You’ll never guess what Musharraf asked me.’
“He asked me whether the UAE had received approval for the Predator!” (Note: The USG’s inability to meet the UAE’s request for an armed Predator remains a sore point for MbZ, although he has not directly raised the issue with us for some time),” the cable said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)