- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2009

SWAT TERRORISTS

The Pakistani ambassador is urging Americans to show their support for his country’s struggle against Taliban terrorists who have overrun the scenic Swat Valley by sending a text message from their cell phones pledging donations.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan is trying to squelch rumors that Washington has plans to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons to stop the Taliban from getting an atomic bomb.

Ambassador Husain Haqqani this week asked U.S. citizens and Pakistani nationals in the United States to pledge donations by texting “Swat” to 20222 on their cell phones.

“We expect the American people to donate generously,” he said in a statement thanking the Obama administration for approving $100 million in emergency aid to Pakistan.

“The contribution of millions of Americans will reassure Pakistanis struggling to root out al Qaeda and Taliban, depriving America’s enemies of the argument that Americans do not care,” he added.

Mr. Haqqani said the cost of relief, rehabilitation of “the victims of terrorism” and reconstruction efforts in the Swat Valley could require the same level of support that the international community showed after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan’s Kashmir region. Total worldwide donations were estimated at $5.8 billion.

In Pakistan, U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson told the Daily Times newspaper in Islamabad that reports of a U.S. contingency plan to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are “nonsense.”

“I have seen this in the media,” she said. “I will say it is all nonsense.”

The ambassador added that sending U.S. troops to guard Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites is “not even technically possible.”

“These reports come from very obscure sources,” she said. “I will call them piles of conjunction.”

VACUUM CLEANER

Queen Elizabeth II has approved the appointment of a top fundraiser to President Obama as U.S. ambassador to Britain, but newspapers there are complaining that the nomination signals that the coveted London position is little more than a “retirement posting” for political supporters.

The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph reported Thursday that Buckingham Palace has accepted Louis Susman, a retired vice president of Citigroup, which received $45 billion in government bailout money last year. Embassy Row noted in February that Mr. Susman was at the top of the list for the ambassadorship.

Mr. Susman, 71, raised so much money for Mr. Obama and other Democratic politicians in Chicago that he was nicknamed the “vacuum cleaner.” He raised at least $500,000 for Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign as well as $300,000 to help pay for the inauguration.

Since his name emerged as a contender for the position, British newspapers have been complaining that Mr. Obama broke a campaign promise to reduce the number of politically appointed ambassadors to major countries.

“The appointment … will raise fresh questions about Mr. Obama’s commitment to the ‘special relationship’ ” between the United States and Britain, wrote the Telegraph’s Washington correspondent, Toby Harnden.

He referred to the “awkward” meeting between Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown in March, when the White House played down the visit. Mr. Obama also removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office.

The Daily Mail complained that the appointment of Mr. Susman, who has no diplomatic experience, shows that the United States considers London “a retirement posting” for political backers. President Bush named two political supporters, William Farish and Robert Tuttle, as ambassadors to Britain during his two terms in office.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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