WikiLeaks revelations: Vatican doubted Pakistan’s sincerity

Published: April 3, 2011
Holy See ‘judges Islamabad an unreliable partner’ in anti-terror effort. PHOTO: FILE/REUTERS

Holy See ‘judges Islamabad an unreliable partner’ in anti-terror effort. PHOTO: FILE/REUTERS


When the US launched global anti-terrorism efforts soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on US soil, seeking Vatican’s point of view, the seat of the Holy See termed Pakistan “an unreliable coalition player”, distrusting former president Pervez Musharraf, doubting Pakistan’s willingness and sincerity to effectively take part in counter-terrorism efforts.

Diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu newspaper through WikiLeaks detail an increasingly strained relationship between the Vatican and Pakistan, with the former suspecting the latter of supporting radical terrorism.

Two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, US Ambassador Jim Nicholson and South Asia Bureau Afghanistan Coordinator Jeffrey J Lunstead met the Vatican’s Deputy Foreign Minister-Equivalent, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, and East Asia and Afghanistan Desk Officer Monsignor Luis Marrano De Montemayor, to discuss US military actions in the Middle East, as well as Pakistan’s role in counter-terrorism actions.

The Vatican’s representatives appeared to be reluctant to trust Pakistan, prompting Lunstead to attempt to mollify their concerns.

Although “Lunstead conceded the problem was grave” and that “certain terrorists in Kashmir had received training in Pakistan and in al Qaida camps,” he made it clear that “the Secretary…had condemned all terrorism.”

“General Musharraf,” Lunstead said, “had a unique opportunity to curb extremist elements in his country,” according to the cable.

However, Lunstead said “while committed to [the American-led] coalition, Musharraf faces domestic pressure because Pakistanis oppose the air campaign,” which led the Pakistani General to call “for its early end”.

While “Migliore worried further at the risk to Pakistan’s stability,” Lunstead “voiced confidence in General Musharraf, praising his swift repudiation of the Taliban, a turnaround that raises hopes Musharraf will now also face down radical Islam within Pakistan,” the cable says.

Over two weeks later, however, the Vatican remained unconvinced.

According to a cable dated November 19, 2001 and classified by Nicholson, Vatican representatives restated that the Holy See “judges Islamabad an unreliable coalition player and distrusts Musharraf”.

“Montemayor made clear that there is no love lost between the Vatican and Musharraf.”

He recounted how “in a late October visit to Islamabad by Archbishop Paul Cordes, head of Cor Unum, the Vatican’s umbrella aid arm, contact with Musharraf and the [government of Pakistan] was kept to a minimum.”

Despite previous US assurances that Pakistan could be trusted, Monsignor Montemayor stated that as far as the Vatican was concerned: “Pakistan…remains a nation of grave concern”.

Monsignor Montemayor then went on to question Pakistan’s loyalty to anti-terrorism efforts, accusing Musharraf of being “unable or unwilling to challenge…radicals.”

“The Vatican strongly doubts reports of a sea change in Musharraf’s politics,” according to the cable. “If Bin Laden finds refuge in Balochistan,” said Monsignor Montemayor: “the US would find Musharraf hard put to deliver on his pledges.”

(This article is a part of the series called The India Cables based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.’)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 03rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • John
    Apr 3, 2011 - 4:45PM

    And every one later agreed with the assessment. Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Apr 3, 2011 - 5:04PM

    One needs foresightedness to “Run or Ruin” the very fabric of the country and the society as a whole. We are now paying the price both on civil and military side but are still very much reluctant to take proper measures.It is time to decide and define who are our “Strategic Assets”. It is not only Vatican but rest of the world also thinks the same. We have to draw some lines towards governance. No country or nation is now glaciated. Internet and other electronic gadgets have now brought us all open and visible under the shining sun.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Apr 3, 2011 - 7:03PM

    In hind site the Vatican was spot on. Pakistan is an unreliable ally and in the long run it will be left with no friends – no future.Recommend

  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Apr 3, 2011 - 7:21PM

    Who cares!! What is Vatican, whats is their worth!!??

    Vatican is a big time opponent of homosexuality and advocate of institution of marriage. Vatican should first try to convince his followers on these two issue :)Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Apr 3, 2011 - 9:28PM

    @Naeem Siddiqui: Vatican is clear on the issues which you have finger point at. Kindly look behind your own backyard on the same issues. I think your comments are only out of some frustration. It is time to learn some lessons and hear saner voices which are pouring out from all over the world. Come out with some logic and reason before jumping to some conclusions.Recommend

  • moiz
    Apr 3, 2011 - 10:02PM

    @naeem: so is islam.Recommend

  • Bambayya
    Apr 3, 2011 - 10:43PM

    @Naeem Siddiqui:

    Actually … who cares what u said ….Recommend

  • XX
    Apr 4, 2011 - 1:14AM

    Wow, what moral superiority displayed here by the Vatican. Invade some other country, conduct aerial bombings of villages, then blame its people/neighbors for not being supportive enough of the invasion and bombings.
    Man the world is deteriorating — fast. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Apr 4, 2011 - 1:31AM

    Vatican, join the club! Recommend

  • romm
    Apr 4, 2011 - 2:31AM

    Kenneth, I appreciate your Comments and concern about pakistan. Terrorism is biggest threat to us and we realize that but before blaming pakistan for all follies, western commoners need to study the historical events which led to 9/11 and obvious radicalism in pakistani society. By the way, Who to be blamed for arming and training pakistanis against Russians ? Didn’t West nurtured Fanaticism in this region. When Mujahideen fought against USSR, they wreak termed heroes but pakistan, directed the onslaught towards india, they became worst than animals. Isn’t this Hypocartic?Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Apr 4, 2011 - 12:18PM

    @romm: We must stop blaming West or other countries for our sufferings. They were doing their national duty but why we fell prey to their offers $$$$$$$. What do you think that we still pronounce “Roti as Chochi” ????? We must and should Grow Up.Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim
    Apr 4, 2011 - 4:09PM

    @Aftab Kenneth Wilson:
    I totally agree; We stand and admire ourselves in front of the mirror,but do not have the moral courage to stand with our backs to that mirror and strain our neck to see the stains on
    our own backs. Let alone the citizens of other religions in Pakistan, what percentage of the Muslims feel secure from the insincerity of our government since 1951.Recommend

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