‘US diplomats harassed in Pakistan for backing India’s n-programme’

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WASHINGTON - Pakistan’s security services harassed US diplomats in Islamabad, delayed visas, clogged customs clearance and sabotaged security contracts as punishment for American support for Pakistan’s civilian government and India’s nuclear programme, suggest leaked US diplomatic cables.

In a briefing to FBI director Robert Mueller ahead of a visit to Pakistan, US embassy officials in Pakistan sketched out a difficult relationship, said media reports citing one of over 250,000 documents leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

In a secret Feb 22, 2010 cable, US diplomats told Mueller that “while we have had major successes in our military and law enforcement cooperation with Pakistan, cooperation has frequently been hampered by suspicion in Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment about US intentions and objectives”.

“Among other things, the Pakistanis believe that we have favoured India over Pakistan-most notably, by approving civil-nuclear cooperation with India-and that we aim to dismantle Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, which, in light of their conventional military disadvantage vis-a-vis India, they consider critical to their national security.

“The military and intelligence establishment is also concerned that we are working with Pakistan’s civilian leadership to limit the military’s prerogative in determining Pakistan’s national security policies.

“As a result of these concerns, the military and intelligence establishment has taken steps since Spring 2009 to hamper the operations of the Embassy.”

Turning to the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, it said: “Pakistan’s prosecution of the seven suspects it arrested in the Mumbai case-i.e., XXXXXXXXXXXX and terrorism financiers XXXXXXXXXXXX-is proceeding, though at a slow pace.”

“The government has continually reassured us that the prosecutors will win convictions against all the defendants after a trial lasting several months, though it has a stronger case against the five LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) operatives than against the two terrorism financers.”

Noting that in October 2009, a Pakistani court had quashed all remaining cases against Hafiz Saeed, the head of LeT alias Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), US officials told Mueller: “The government has repeatedly told us that it would need much more evidence of Saeed’s direct involvement in the Mumbai attacks to move forward with Mumbai-related charges against him.”

Pakistani officials, they said, had also informed the FBI that it would be difficult to introduce evidence related to a key plotter Pakistani American David Coleman Headley “in the government’s prosecution of the Mumbai defendants, including because Headley’s statements to US authorities would be treated as hearsay with little evidentiary value in court”.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

Filed under: Terrorism

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