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Obama administration is divided over future of U.S.-Pakistan relationship

By Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard

Two weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration remains uncertain and divided over the future of its relationship with Pakistan, according to senior U.S. officials.

The discovery of the al-Qaeda leader in a city near Pakistan’s capital has pushed many in the administration beyond any willingness to tolerate Pakistan’s ambiguous connections with extremist groups. After years of ineffective American warnings, many U.S. officials are concluding that a change in policy is long overdue.

Those warnings are detailed in a series of contemporaneous written accounts, obtained by The Washington Post, chronicling three years of often-contentious meetings involving top officials of both countries. Confirmed by U.S. and Pakistani participants, the exchanges portray a circular debate in which the United States repeatedly said it had irrefutable proof of ties between Pakistani military and intelligence officials and the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents, and warned that Pakistani refusal to act against them would exact a cost.

U.S. officials have said they have no evidence top Pakistani military or civilian leaders were aware of bin Laden’s location or authorized any official support, but his residence within shouting distance of Pakistani military installations has brought relations to a crisis point.

Some officials, particularly in the White House, have advocated strong reprisals, especially if Pakistan continues to refuse access to materials left behind by U.S. commandos who scooped up all the paper and computer drives they could carry during their deadly 40-minute raid on bin Laden’s compound.

“You can’t continue business as usual,” said one of several senior administration officials who discussed the sensitive issue only on the condition of anonymity. “You have to somehow convey to the Pakistanis that they’ve arrived at a big choice.”

“People who were prepared to listen to [Pakistan’s] story for a long time are no longer prepared to listen,” the official said.

But few officials are eager to contemplate the alternatives if Pakistan makes the wrong choice. No one inside the administration, the official said, “wants to make a fast, wrong decision.”

Every available option — from limiting U.S. aid and official contacts, to unleashing more unilateral ground attacks against terrorist targets — jeopardizes existing Pakistani help, however undependable, in keeping U.S. enemies at bay. Military success and an eventual negotiated settlement of the Afghanistan war are seen as virtually impossible without some level of Pakistani buy-in.

“The fact of the matter is that we’ve been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil than just about anyplace else,” President Obama said last week on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “We could not have done that without Pakistani cooperation.”

For now, the administration is in limbo, awaiting Pakistan’s response to immediate questions about bin Laden and hoping it will engage in a more solid counterterrorism partnership in the future.

That outcome seems increasingly in doubt. In Pakistan, officials’ pledges following the bin Laden raid that Pakistan would never let its territory be used for terrorist strikes against another country have turned to heated accusations of betrayal by the United States. ….

Read more : Washington Post

Zardari in WikiLeaks – Nawaz Sharif is worst than Asfandyar Wali Khan for the GHQ?

Nuclear Fuel Memos Expose Wary Dance With Pakistan

This article is by Jane Perlez, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt.

….. “Kayani will want to hear that the United States has turned the page on past ISI operations,” it said. General Kayani was probably referring to the peace accords with the Taliban from 2004 to 2007 that resulted in the strengthening of the militants.

If the general seems confidently in charge, the cables portray Mr. Zardari as a man not fully aware of his weakness.

At one point he said he would not object if Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered in Pakistan as the father of its nuclear weapons program, were interviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency but tacitly acknowledged that he was powerless to make that happen.

Mr. Zardari, who spent 11 years in prison on ultimately unproved corruption charges, feared for his position and possibly — the wording is ambiguous — his life: the cables reveal that Vice President Biden told Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain in March 2009 that Mr. Zardari had told him that the “ISI director and Kayani will take me out.”

His suspicions were not groundless. In March 2009, a period of political turmoil, General Kayani told the ambassador that he “might, however reluctantly,” pressure Mr. Zardari to resign and, the cable added, presumably leave Pakistan. He mentioned the leader of a third political party, Asfandyar Wali Khan, as a possible replacement.

“Kayani made it clear regardless how much he disliked Zardari he distrusted Nawaz even more,” the ambassador wrote, a reference to Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister.

By 2010, after many sessions with Mr. Zardari, Ms. Patterson had revised the guarded optimism that characterized her early cables about Mr. Zardari.

“Pakistan’s civilian government remains weak, ineffectual and corrupt,” she wrote on Feb. 22, 2010, the eve of a visit by the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III. “Domestic politics is dominated by uncertainty about the fate of President Zardari.”

That assessment holds more than eight months later, even as Mr. Obama in October extended an invitation to the Mr. Zardari leader to visit the White House next year, as the leader of a nation that holds a key to peace in Afghanistan but appears too divided and mistrustful to turn it for the Americans.

To read full article : The New York Times