WikiLeaks: Zardari's staying power surprises Gates

Published: November 30, 2010

It was astonishing that President Zardari had remained in power said Robert Gates. PHOTO: AFP

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates found it ‘astonishing’ that President Asif Ali Zardari was still in power in 2010, as was revealed in confidential US diplomatic cables.

The comments were part of a conversation Gates had with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the details of which were leaked by WikiLeaks:

Turning to Pakistan, Sec Def described the dramatic changes that had taken place over the past year.  It was astonishing that President Zardari had remained in power and that the Pakistanis had conducted such effective COIN operations.  He noted that coordination between ISAF and Pakistan’s armed forces was improving – and this was creating a more difficult situation for the Taliban along the border… moreover, Pakistan’s aggressive campaign against the insurgency had won broad political support among all political parties.

Bernard Kouchner agreed, and added that political and military changes in Pakistan are “nothing short of a miracle”.

Sec Def commented that one can never be an optimist about Pakistan, but that the changes had been striking.  Kouchner agreed with SecDef’s analysis that the changes in both the political and military spheres were “nothing short of a miracle.”

In the conversation, Gates and Kouchner also addressed the improving image of the Pakistan Army.

Operations in the West and North-West had begun to accrue respect for Pakistan Army that Musharraf had squandered.

With additional reporting by Jahanzaib Haque.

Reader Comments (34)

  • Anonymous!
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:36PM

    well, this is democracy!
    everything good happens wen there is democracy!
    and we should allow zardari to continue till his term ends and let the people decide!Recommend

  • rabeea hasan
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:49PM

    i find it astonishing that ROBERT GATES and BERNARD KOUCHNER appreciate the military changes and the non indulgence of military in politics of PAKISTAN as it is so not in favor of U.S.Recommend

  • Ali AMEEN
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:49PM

    Lessons to learn for Pakistan from Wikileaks: We should seed and seek trust only within our own nation, let go of provincialism and uphold Pakistan’s national interest, sovereignty and integrity at every cost without counting on any one else. The world out there is full of hypocrites. Recommend

  • sohaib
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:52PM

    Any indians, please! Recommend

  • Usama Zafar
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:53PM

    Well it surprises the whole Pakistani nation not only Gates!!Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 10:03PM

    @Anonymous: Do you want him to sell Pakistan till end of his government? Yes, we like democracy but it isn’t what we call democracy…. He holds dual position, party head and country head. Is it democracy?Recommend

  • Crimson
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:13PM

    I agree with the anonymous. We do not have many options and all of our political leaders are of same character except few of them. If any un-constituional change comes( Which is currently out of Question these days) in Pakistan, it wil further destabilize Pakistan. We should let President Zardari and its team to complete its tenure…Recommend

  • Usman Muzaffar Baig
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:34PM

    It shows that america is going from Afghanistan.Recommend

  • kittu
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:59PM

    @Sohaib

    What do you need Indians..?Recommend

  • Dec 1, 2010 - 12:02AM

    zardzri has the lifetime chance to be the hope for the peopleRecommend

  • Anonymous!
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:28AM

    thank you crimson!
    many people should feel that way for it is only through elections that we can get a better democracy!
    and the fact that pakistani govt didnot give in to the american pressure over the nukes is also applaudable! Recommend

  • syed A. Mateen
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:41AM

    Mr. Zardari’s government will be the first government of PPP in Pakistan which will complete its tenure.

    The next general elections will be held on due date. Until then political leaders should relax and do their home work.

    Unfortunately, no government in the world can assess Pakistan political situation, as day to day affairs of Pakistan is being run by Al-Mighty Allah and no one else.

    The enemies of Pakistan had planned number of time to destroy from every angle, but every time Al-Mighty Allah save Pakistan from evil forces.

    Mr. Zardari may be stranger for Mr. Robert Gates, but he is no stranger to people of Pakistan being widower of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

    I am glad to note that no Pakistani government official has passed flying remarks against any foreign dignitary which may also have become the headlines of WikiLeaks. The world leaders or foreign government officials may have different opinions about Pakistan’s leadership or political stability, I being a Pakistani national is proud that despite all odds, Pakistan is surviving and will keep on surviving until the last day of the world.

    PAKISTAN ZINDABAD. Recommend

  • khan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 2:35AM

    The only reason Zardari is still there is because Kayani mistrusts Nawaz Sharif even more.

    Latest WikiLeaks disclosure in the New York Times reveals:

    “During their fourth meeting in a week 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. ”

    According to these revealed reports: “Mr. Zardari’s chief antagonist, General Kayani, emerges as a stubborn guarantor of what he sees as Pakistan’s national interest, an army chief who meddles in civilian politics but stops short of overturning the elected order. ”

    If the Army directly reveals its hand in ousting Zardari its image will become tarnished somewhat, and Kayani probably wishes to avoid that. Creating a parliamentary coup against Zardari is not an easy task right now, not even for the Army. However things may change a few months down the line.

    These diplomatic cables show that Zardari had earlier told US Vice President Biden that he worried that the military might “take me out.”

    It’s interesting how these leaders – civilian and uniformed – blab so openly (and, may I add, rather shamelessly) to the Americans.Recommend

  • MG
    Dec 1, 2010 - 4:01AM

    One benefit of Wikileaks: At least someone (or some people) have the guts, and opportunity, to speak the truth, and say what they think and feel everyday. Bring it on!Recommend

  • sohaib
    Dec 1, 2010 - 5:38AM

    @kittu

    because every story related to Pakistan, Indians are the overwhelming contributors to malign our country. Be it as insignificant as a praise for Zaheer Abbas or a talk about corruption in India. Indians hog the comment section. Recommend

  • vasan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 6:56AM

    Why “any Indians”. there are many Indians. What do u want Indians to do. This is a bear hug between US and PakistanRecommend

  • Asrar Ahmed
    Dec 1, 2010 - 7:16AM

    Many poor people in Pakistan are also surprised that he has continued as President. The members of the civil society are very worried at his continuing in power——–the country is suffering. This s the last time PPP is in power.And by the way where is Bilwal now that he has finished college….was he not supposed to come back to Paksitan and lead PPPRecommend

  • sikander
    Dec 1, 2010 - 8:46AM

    Sohaib try to understand I too have been following so many indians and they only post if there is anything related to their country.

    They seems to me a decent bunch, They do have something positive about pakistan.Recommend

  • hassan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 8:49AM

    i agree wid usama zafar .. lolz.Recommend

  • Dec 1, 2010 - 8:59AM

    I think this is called deception, americans should not insult their intlegencia, based on dollars.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Dec 1, 2010 - 11:43AM

    Easiest way to ruin Pakistan is the rule of corrupt and inefficient persons.. i agree with kind abdullah.Recommend

  • Murtza lodhi
    Dec 1, 2010 - 1:08PM

    its good but not so much 4 muslims ..as they wil collide wd one another Recommend

  • MH
    Dec 1, 2010 - 8:15PM

    King Abdullah, is a clever fellow. At least he calls a spade, a spade. The Americans, they just have to choose between lesser evil for now. To have a guy like zardari in power serves their purpose because 1) he will follow orders because he needs to rejuvenate his bank accounts in Europe, 2) because ultimately, thanks to him, the country would become so unstable that the Americans would have no choice but to step in.

    You know, when a snake bites you, you’re wary the next time. Targeted killings, corruption, ethnic cleansing, kidnapping for ransom, riots that happened in the 1990s…it’s all back in full force. Worse now than before. Pakistani voters just really have some short term amnesia when it comes to electing people into power. Don’t just tout the benefits of democracy unless you truly understand it. Democracy means freedom, basic human rights. Where did PPP’s democratic morals go when they threw out Naheed Khan for being a voice of dissent? Recommend

  • Akhtar
    Dec 2, 2010 - 2:11AM

    If you look closely every thing WL says suggsts pakistan is strong and getting stronger
    Please dont try to use military to do dirty job for Zardari bashers. He is one man but he has mandate of the majorit albeit poor. Kiyani has no mandate he will go please dont tempt him to muddle with politics the army has been defeated many times on war front and their intervention in politics has deprived pakistan a place among honourable and prosprrouNsations
    Is it that zardari suporters are not articulste and well like you people but they are the ones who make government and will bring Zardari back oRecommend

  • G.Khan
    Dec 2, 2010 - 9:05AM

    It’s a good thing that Wikileaks is leaking this Information,however how many really qestioning that what will be the share of really true information in the whole information? Why so easily Wikileaks is getting this information whereas the only superpower and its powerful intelligence agencies look so helpless before Wikileaks? Who is providing this Information to Wikileaks? And why Pentagon is silent? Is it happening with collusion ? What are the objectives of such leaks? Who is the beneficiary? Why do not we see any news about Israel and India? It’s a good thing that such are coming to media but question remains the same, ” How do we know which information is authentic”?
    Zardari can not stay in Power if US do not want him to. I am surprised on his surprises. They did not want to take any risk after Z.A.Bhutto. Recommend

  • rabeea hasan
    Dec 2, 2010 - 10:54PM

    @ G.KHAN…..i completely agree with you , i think that the questions u rose r in every mind here so we should use our heads and find answer to those questions rather than wasting our energies on such non authentic reports……….Recommend

  • Dec 3, 2010 - 3:23PM

    @Khan: replacement of Asfandyar Wali would ruin the nation. It couldn’t do well in KPK. And Nawaz really isn’t some1 to be trusted. These two big parties(PML and PPP) just hunt for powers and we suffer as a result. Recommend

  • Rizwan Shirazi
    Dec 9, 2010 - 8:28AM

    It is really surprising that Mr. Zardari is the president of pakistan but it will not be a surprise that he will never ever hold any position of this cadre in future ……………….. atleast this is what all expect from this nation.Recommend

  • Dec 10, 2010 - 6:38AM

    What gives Kayani the idea that he can badmouth the civilian administration to a foreign nation while being a public servant? McChrystal was removed for something far less than this.Recommend

  • G.Khan
    Dec 10, 2010 - 11:34AM

    @Rabeea Hasan
    I am glad to see at least few people try to find rationale behind events. It’s the Only way to get the truth out. Truth is Justice and truth is Power. Truth is the base for any faith. So what’s the targert here? Truth istelf? Can’t it be, for example, to MIX the truth with fake information so well that the whole looks true? This entire episode has three parts:

    1) Mix the FAKE Information with correct information such that entire information look true.
    2) The 50% Fake information, inseparable from the correct one, has the Objectives and agenda fed Into it.
    3) Use Local Media as medium to project the whole Bundle at no costs .

    What are the objectives of that 50% Fake Information.This is the question. What does anyone think?Recommend

  • rabeea hasan
    Dec 14, 2010 - 4:30PM

    @ G.khan
    brother we are unfortunate creatures who are being targeted by their own people….but i still believe that things haven`t become worst yet …there is still hope and room for betterment ,we must stop believing these corrupt politicians and should do something on our own…..students and sincere people with new ideas should join politics …perhaps this could be the solution..because one can not clean the dirt without getting into it……Recommend

  • G.Khan
    Dec 15, 2010 - 3:08PM

    @Rabeea Hasan
    More than unfortunate, we are dishonest. We are taught dishonesty from our early childhood. This so seamlessly become part of our value system that we even fail to accept at later stages that we are dishonest people. A dishonest is bound to be a liar. A liar is bound to be corrupt. A corrupt, can then easily be a Traitor, looter, briber, and you name it, on and on. The most damage the dishonesty does is that it takes away one most wanted quality in a human being and that is “COURAGE”. from courage borns the Charisma and Leadership. Therefore, the disappearance of Charismatic Leadership does have its root cause in basic value system itself.

    At the child level, we must enforce this Value of honesty. By the time we will become a tree from a plant we will be healthy and upright.Recommend

  • rabeea hasan
    Dec 21, 2010 - 8:47PM

    @ G khan
    well m really really inspired bro ….u r absolutely right even our generation is polluted with dishonesty….but perhaps its upto us how we raise our next generation..because the future of country,if there remains any future, depends on it.by the way what do you do?Recommend

  • Sardar Alam Khan
    Dec 22, 2010 - 11:18AM

    Like it if u think u r, “Responible and civilized citizen of Pakistan”.
    http://www.facebook.com/IAARACCOP Recommend

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