WikiLeaks: Zardari and the ‘backup plan’

Published: December 1, 2010
File photo President Asif Ali Zardari speaking with Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani during a meeting in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

File photo President Asif Ali Zardari speaking with Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani during a meeting in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Fearing an assassination attempt, President Asif Ali Zardari has made extensive arrangements, revealed a new WikiLeaks cable release.

Zardari had spoken to former US ambassador Anne Patterson in 2009, saying that he had instructed his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to name his sister Faryal Talpur as President if he is assassinated, reported The Guardian.

In another cable quoted by the newspaper, US Vice President Joe Biden recounted to Britain’s then Prime Minister Gordon Brown a conversation with Zardari last year. Zardari told him that Kayani and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency “will take me out,” according to the cable.

Another memo cited in The New York Times quotes General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of the military, telling the US ambassador during a March 2009 meeting that he “might, however reluctantly,” pressure Zardari to resign.

Kayani was quoted as saying that he might support Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of the Awami National League Party, as the new president — not Zardari’s arch-nemesis Nawaz Sharif.

The cables also laid bare US frustrations at what officials see as Pakistan’s refusal to cut off ties with extremists such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for carrying out the bloody 2008 siege of Mumbai.

“There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance levels in any field as sufficient compensation for abandoning support for these groups, which it sees as an important part of its national security apparatus against India,” Ambassador Anne Patterson said in a cable quoted by the Times.

The cables also touch on allegations of extrajudicial killings by Pakistani forces, according to the Times.

A cable last year suggested there was credible evidence that the or paramilitary forces killed some detainees after an offensive against Taliban insurgents in the northwestern regions.

The embassy said that news of killings should not be leaked to the press, for fear of offending the Pakistani army. However, this year the United States said it would cut off support for some Pakistani units following the release of a video that appeared to show extrajudicial killings.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Dr.Razi uddin
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:12PM

    Bravo,Mr.President…even his wife,(late)mohtarama Benazeer Bhutto didn’t name any family member as heir to “throne”,though she knew she would be assasinated,Whom he like to see on throne after beloved sister?Recommend

  • coco
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:16PM

    Please release a list of successors you want to come one after the other.Recommend

  • Ammar
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:23PM

    I fear whether its like an Indian movie, which lenghts around 3 hours. I infered that wikileaks is being instructed by U.S intelligence.Recommend

  • KM
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:27PM

    What about extrahudicial killings that US forces are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? It was always anticipated that ZAB and BB’s PPP has been hijacked and soon it will be a Zardari Party, hence his instructions to his son :)

    His fear of his Kayani is less than his fear from himself, as he has NOT been able to come out of his corrupt desires. At the end it is all very easy to pass the buck onto others, in other to gain sympathies, and in here is looking towards the US :)Recommend

    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:50PM

    its like every thing moving within the family. Is Pakistan a family run State ?Recommend

  • Dec 1, 2010 - 2:47PM

    How many political families in Pakistan have sacrificed their lives in Pakistan like Bhuttos? Whats wrong for masses to go after a family which has a long list of political martyrs. Is there anyone who raise this question- why always the Bhutto family? Representing people in Pakistan is an uphill task in Pakistan and serving the powerful establishment is easy and rewarding.Recommend

  • Dec 1, 2010 - 3:08PM

    A political party that is reluctant to give party leadership outside family is talking about democracy! That’s ridiculous.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Dec 1, 2010 - 3:53PM

    Pakistani Monarchy has been taken by Zardari dynasty from Bhutto dynasty…….Recommend

  • Danish
    Dec 1, 2010 - 3:55PM

    Pakistani Monarchy has been taken by Zardari dynasty from Bhutto dynasty…….Recommend

  • SAZ
    Dec 1, 2010 - 4:18PM


    Bio Note: Embassy officers have been very impressed with Talpur, who is extremely energetic and well respected. Kayani once told the Ambassador that she would be a better president than her brother.)


  • Dec 1, 2010 - 4:27PM

    Bhuttos/Zardaris deserve to lead the party like Gandhis deserve to lead in India and Haseena Wajid leads in Bangladesh. I don’t understand why its only Zardari and Peoples Party criticized by our so called pro establishment “learned class” whereas Maulana Fazal ur Rehman, Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali- eveyone represents a “dynasty” but our so called “learned class” has built in hate for people and they are guided by “establishment’s” propoganda. Recommend

  • Ali Farooqui
    Dec 1, 2010 - 5:29PM

    such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for carrying out the bloody 2008 siege of Mumbai. I thought it was Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which was involvedRecommend

  • ihtisham khan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 6:11PM

    two wrongs does not make a right…if nawaz borther do it or any other party do it does not mean ppp is its amazing how people will defend ppp..when i die daughter should be the president..oh come on..Recommend

  • Imran
    Dec 1, 2010 - 7:28PM

    it is ironical that no one talks about his assassination, but his will to appoint Faryal Talpur as his successor. this is the hypocrisy of this nation with misplaced priorities. Recommend

  • Gahez Pashtun
    Dec 1, 2010 - 7:28PM

    Instead of praising the courage of Zardari for facing death and not kneeling down to the army and the ISI, the army supporters are criticizing him on naming his successor. Shame Shame.
    Bravo president Zardari, you have made your wife and the people of smaller provinces proud for standing up to the ruling Punjabi province, its army brutal intelligence who have brought havoc on the people of Pakistan and the neighbouring countries by training, and financing Islamist terrorist groups.
    The presidency of Pakistan is just like a personal property of the army of this country, and want to bless who ever they favor to be in power.
    There can’t be peace and prosperity in the region as long as Pakistani army and intelligence agnecies remain in direct or indirect control of Pakistan and as long as they are backing terrorist groups in the region.Recommend

  • Amna
    Dec 1, 2010 - 8:20PM

    @khalid.aziz: Please do not defend the PPP by trying to use India and Bangladesh as an example. If those parties created the mess in those countries the way the people’s party has in pakistan…they would get their share of criticism too.

    The PPP should be worried about what they themselves are doing….why talk about democracy when you can not even elect a leader aside from family members of previous leaders? So if you are no different from the Sharifs, and the asfandyar walis and the chaudharies…then Pakistan does not need you either. Just like Pakistan does not need them….so stop talking about democracy and trying to gain support with that BS.

    Just because someone is corrupt and ruining our country…you should have the right to as well? Please do Pakistan a favor and all PPP leadership just leave Pakistan and move to your mansions abroad and leave Pakistan alone.

    I know a jiyala in the US who has fled the country after killing his sister’s ex-husband. He is living better than most people who work only on on looted money and no job. He still has the audacity to say to people that “If I was in Pakistan and so and so said this to me, I would have them killed.” I think you all would love this life….please leaveRecommend

  • Dec 1, 2010 - 8:25PM

    well, none of us want to discuss the brutal fact that a constitutionaly elected president of Pakistan is talking of his “possible assasination”. My question is why its always PPP? Can anyone shed some light on it? Unconstitutional presidents enjoy absolute powers for 10,11 years but when it comes to representatives of people they are around for 18 months, 2.5 years etc.Our “learned class” can get away with dictators for 11 years because their so called interests are best served during dictatorial regimes but when ordinary people of Pakistan elect their representatives the “learned class” under establishment’s propoganda plays a very negative role to destabilize the weak democratic process. Poor masses of Pakistan have repeatedly proved that they are much more poltically mature as compared to these “mummy daddy burgers”, who are even today fond of people like Musharraf- Facebook polticians.Recommend

  • Maulana Halwa
    Dec 1, 2010 - 8:35PM

    To nominate his sister as the President of Pakistan in case of his assassination comes to shows that Zardari is running Pakistan and the PPP as a family dynasty, The consequences of such rulers has always been deadly. He dosent have to look far and wide in History. Just the neighbours.
    Its always has been in their interest. (Elites Zamindar, elected reps corrupt officials). To keep the nation poor and illiterate so they can play on their emotions and stay in Power. Some of the Wiki-Leaks may be just disinformations but this one sounds True.Recommend

  • hameed ali khan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 10:21PM

    the problem is not the army..the real problem is our politicians who all the time try to play with pakistan and use this country for their own interest..Recommend

  • Hamood
    Dec 1, 2010 - 10:34PM

    @maulana halwa, you are spot on. Couldn’t have said it better myself.Recommend

  • Maulana Halwa
    Dec 1, 2010 - 11:07PM

    @ Imran “Nations Misplaced priority !!!!! ” Pakistan wouldn’t been in this position if Priority where not misplaced by the Rulers of Pakistan for so long. The population of Pakistan is generally hard working honest citizen who deserve more then what they get.Recommend

  • ali
    Dec 1, 2010 - 11:19PM

    why is everyone so worried about who he named as successor, who will probably not succeed him anyways?

    Shouldn’t we be more worried that an elected PRESIDENT, no less, is fearing assassination by state organs?? Recommend

  • Dr.Razi uddin
    Dec 2, 2010 - 12:29AM

    Who can clearly define democratic republic,and Kingdom?does democracy means poor made to suffer,deprived of education,health,shelter,where as the sons and daughters of elite class,live a lavish life abroad,with the looted wealth of country they belong,and just waiting for their turn to loot and plunder wealth of the sir we don’t need any such democracy…and yes..a good dictator is better then this worst and so called democracy.Recommend

  • Kamran Sadique
    Dec 2, 2010 - 3:00AM

    one wonders why there aren’t any comments for Pakistan Army and it’s wicked ways? One also wonders what’s wrong with choosing a successor to lead a party? It is hereditary and contrary to the principles of Democracy within a party, but, a) it’s a practice known in the subcontinent, (sort of cultural), and b) leadership is about Trust, and who could you trust but your own in a “wicked” country like Pakistan?Recommend

  • Kamran Sadique
    Dec 2, 2010 - 3:02AM

    The more important thing to take away from this is;


    “Shouldn’t we be more worried that an elected PRESIDENT, no less, is fearing assassination by state organs??”Recommend

  • fifi
    Dec 2, 2010 - 5:11AM

    Ali, great point.

    The problem I have with the ISI is that they are too efficient to be a state organ of Pakistan. How the hell is t that everything else in this country sucks at serving the people other than the ISI? Doesn’t that get people thinking?Recommend

  • Abbas Khan
    Dec 2, 2010 - 9:51AM

    It proves that Mr. Zardari is a very brave person, who is not afraid to meet his fate. Instead of falling at General’s feet to beg his life, he made a back up plan. By nominating his sister, till young Bilawal attains some experience, is proof of his bravery, vision and foresight. His sister was appointed guardian of Bilawal by BB herself. Faryal is a very honest, intellegent and educated lady. Great visionary leaders always have such back up plans. Long live Mr. Zardari. Recommend

  • Ch Allah Daad
    Dec 2, 2010 - 10:13AM

    Nominating family members as successor.. Everyone knows that this is one of the drawbacks of Pakistani politics, but such weakness will be resolved only with passage of time and with unhindered democratic periods. But the real question is, who gave authority to army chief to decide the fate of an elected president? How many setbacks, defeats and insults more some people in uniform need to learn that politics is a dirty game. I did not like Mr. Zardari before, but from now on, I have changed my opinion. I have found him very brave and true person. Corrupt people are not so brave. Great work Mr. President. Thanks for your leadership.Recommend

  • dr abida iqbal
    Dec 2, 2010 - 11:23PM

    who will tell mr. zardari that pakistan is not his family propertyRecommend

  • Dec 3, 2010 - 4:19AM

    @Dr.Abida- even an ordinary Pakistani knows that Pakistan is not personal property of any poltician, it is actually property of Army and America (AA). Zardari will be around until AA are ready to tolerate him. As an ordinary civilian I can just say “long live civilian president”.Recommend

  • Neha
    Dec 3, 2010 - 1:23PM

    @Gahez Pashtun

    You are right. Yes our president is very “brave”.He was standing up to the army and was bending down in front American delegate. I salute him for his “bravery” because he said that,

    In a May 2008 meeting with a visiting American congressional delegation, President Asif Ali Zardari said: “We won’t act without consulting with you,” according to a US embassy cable leaked by WikiLeaks. Recommend

  • Sengathir
    Dec 3, 2010 - 3:57PM

    Everybody is criticising Zardari for the ‘ethic’ behind naming a ‘successor’ from his family.. But nobody gives a damn about ‘plan’ for killing a person like Zardari…Recommend

  • Maulana Halwa
    Dec 3, 2010 - 10:42PM

    I wonder WHY ???Recommend

  • ali
    Jan 7, 2011 - 7:30PM

    i am not saying all this against or for our president. well, he is our president and we all should respect him. he is a representative of our beloved country. so it is our duty to respect our president. for those who are against the president, i want to ask that why did u guys vote ppp if u wanted to criticize after their nominations. you all should’ve thought about these things before voting ppp. (well, it is clear that most of the Pakistanis have voted ppp that is why they are on the seats) . now its not the time !! and for those who are with the ppp , its ALWAYS ppp because its ALWAYS ppp doing the wrong things . most of the politicians are corrupt. not only in ppp, others too .

    i would like to include my last words, that today’s ppp has forgotten the main objectives that bhutto(late) wanted . he was the real man !!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

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