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.