Leaked cable says Pakistanis sabotaged own air missions

U.S. urged to provide ‘continuous’ drones

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U.S. officials and analysts say elements within Pakistan’s armed forces and intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, are reluctant to sever ties with militants operating in Afghanistan and India.

“Pakistani military operations against insurgent groups have always been primarily focused on threats to Pakistani security,” said Jeffrey Dressler, a research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week, Sen. Christopher A. Coons, Delaware Democrat, raised questions about Pakistan’s commitment to acting against terrorists.

“I’m deeply disturbed by what seems to be a state that plays a double game, that accepts significant multibillion-dollar aid from us, combat groups that target its own domestic concerns, but then clearly hedges against the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is an uneven partner at best,” he said.

Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden early May 2 in Abbottabad, a garrison town about 30 miles from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The al Qaeda leader’s hide-out was barely a mile from the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul.

In his meetings with the U.S. officials, Vice Marshal Chaudhry said Pakistan’s military leadership has a tough time maintaining positive attitudes toward the U.S. among enlisted personnel.

The cable says he cited the susceptibility of the enlisted ranks - most of whom come from rural areas - to the influence of Islamist clerics. “You can’t imagine what a hard time we have trying to get to trim their beards,” Vice Marshal Chaudhry is quoted as saying in a cable.

Conservative Muslims grow full beards as a sign of piety.

While in Pakistan, Mr. Hillen heard criticism of President George W. Bush’s decision not to give Pakistan a civil nuclear deal similar to the one he struck with India.

A Pakistani official expressed dismay at Mr. Bush’s reference to rogue nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, as the reason why the U.S. would not offer this deal to Islamabad.

Nazir Hussain, who at the time was chief of protocol at Pakistan’s foreign ministry, told Mr. Hillen: “Your man cut Musharraf off at the knees” with that public comment, according to the cable. Gen. Pervez Musharraf was the Pakistani president.

Pakistan was negotiating the sale of F-16 fighter jets with the U.S. at the time, and Vice Marshal Chaudhry asked Mr. Hillen to ensure that the deal “has enough sweeteners to appeal to the public - a complete squadron of new F-16s, with JDAM and night-vision capability - but not to offer the PAF things that it cannot afford,” according to the cable.

Discussing the Chinese JF-17 Thunder jet, a key component of Pakistan’s fighter fleet, Vice Marshal Chaudhry acknowledged that the jet was not comparable to the U.S. F-16 in terms of quality, particularly its avionics and weapons systems.

On a trip to Beijing last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani secured a deal in which China will provide Pakistan with 50 more JF-17s.

Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said Pakistan was seeking delivery of the jets within six months.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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