Israel was concerned for former president Pervez Musharraf’s well-being and wanted him to remain in power in 2007.
This was revealed in a secret cable message originating from the American embassy in Tel Aviv that was leaked by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, in its latest release of classified information ‘Cablegate’.
The cable message contained records of US under secretary Burns’ meeting with Israel’s Mossad Chief Meir Dagan on August 17, 2007. Dagan met Burns to provide his assessment of the Middle East region, Pakistan and Turkey. According to leaked documents:
Dagan provided his assessment of the Middle East region, Pakistan and Turkey, stressing Israel’s (a) concern for President Musharraf’s well-being, (b) view that Iran can be forced to change its behavior, and (c) sense that Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are unstable with unclear futures ahead of them.
The Israeli spy chief said that he was concerned about how long then-Pakistani President Musharraf would survive, saying:
“…he is facing a serious problem with the militants. Pakistan’s nuclear capability could end up in the hands of an Islamic regime.”
Dagan observed that Musharraf appeared to be losing control, citing that his coalition partners could threaten the former president in the future. He linked Musharraf’s retaining control over Pakistan to his dual president and commander-in-chief role. The cable message says that if Musharraf cannot retain his army role, “he will have problems”.
The Mossad chief, observing attempts on Musharraf’s life, wondered whether he could survive the coming years.
Burns replied that South Asia has assumed vital importance in American foreign policy since September 11 and said the US is committed to denying Afghanistan as a safe-haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda activity. He said the US is committed to support the Musharraf and Karzai governments as they face opposition from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Burns also said that the US will remain engaged in the region for the long term.
Ehud Barak’s ‘nightmare’
In another cable message marked “confidential” also sent from the American embassy in Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Ehud Barak described Pakistan as his “private nightmare”.
Barak, who met two separate American delegations, said that if there is a potential Islamic extremist takeover in Pakistan, the world might wake up “with everything changed”.
When Barak was asked if the use of force on Iran might backfire with moderate Muslims in Pakistan, Barak said that although the two countries are interconnected, a causal chain between the use of force on Iran and public anger in Pakistan cannot be established.
With additional reporting by Hassan Asif.