WikiLeaks episode III: ‘Britain, US pressing MQM to oppose NRO’

Published: December 4, 2010
Rehman Malik felt establishment, Saudi Arabia were working to oust Zardari. PHOTO: EPA

Rehman Malik felt establishment, Saudi Arabia were working to oust Zardari. PHOTO: EPA

KARACHI: According to a US State Department cable released by WikiLeaks, Interior Minister Rehman Malik suspected that the ‘establishment’ was out to get President Asif Zardari and that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was being influenced by the US and the UK.

In a meeting held on November 9, 2009, Malik claimed to then US ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson that the “MQM had repeatedly stated that both the US and the UK had urged the party to oppose the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)  – a move that led the government to withdraw the legislation from parliamentary consideration and placed the future of Zardari at risk.”

Malik also claimed that the MQM had said that it “had received this message during the Sindh governor’s recent trip to the US and that Altaf Hussain had been approached by the UK govt in London.” Patterson denied that the US had spoken to the Sindh governor.

Malik’s motive to meet Patterson was to request that the US issue a strong statement supporting democracy in Pakistan. Patterson commented in the memo that Malik was worried that “Zardari and his inner circle of advisers had lost the support of the international community.”

Malik also claimed that the ‘establishment’ was involved in working against the NRO and for Zardari’s exit. However, while the MQM had told Malik that the military was involved, the interior minister did not believe that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Kayani was ‘involved in the plotting’.

According to a leaked memo, Kayani, however, had told Patterson in March 2009 that he may have to urge Zardari to resign if conditions deteriorated. The memo also said that Kayani had hinted at ‘disquiet among his corps commanders who believe Zardari is corrupt and has not been paying enough attention to Pakistan’s economic and security challenges.’

The ambassador recounting her meeting with Malik noted that his belief that “ISI Director General (DG) Lt-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha was unilaterally behind the push to oust Zardari” and Kayani was not involved was “either naive or intentionally misleading”.

Patterson wrote that it would be “impossible for Pasha to move without Kayani’s acquiescence.” Pasha had also spoken to Patterson in early 2009 about his concerns over Zardari.

Rehman Malik suggested in the meeting that the way to deal with military pressure would be for Zardari to make changes in the military hierarchy. Malik, in the memo notes, “proposed that Zardari recreate the deputy chief of army staff position and move Pasha into that position in March 2010. Zardari could then elevate Pasha to COAS in Oct 2010 on the expiration of Kayani’s term. Malik suggested that Kayani could then be made chairman of the joint staff.”

However, the move did not go ahead. Kayani’s term as chief of army staff was extended this July for three more years. Pasha’s term as DG ISI was extended for a year in March 2010.

The interior minister also believed that Saudi Arabia was ‘working to unseat Zardari’.

Saudi Arabia’s dislike of Zardari has been documented in several cables by WikiLeaks revealing several reasons – Saudi Arabia feared a ‘Shia triangle’ in the region and Zardari’s relationship with Iran.

Malik also claimed the MQM was meeting with the PML – N and Sharif was “pressuring CJ [of Pakistan (CJP)] Iftikhar [Muhammad] Chaudhry to disqualify Zardari.”

Malik also said that the NRO expiry would not affect Zardari, and that the CJP would not revoke Zardari’s presidential immunity. Malik claimed that if the CJP did so, “the interior minister can instruct prosecutors to dismiss charges in any court case.” Patterson noted, “Malik’s views on Zardari’s legal troubles presuppose that CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry will be bound by normal interpretations of the law and precedent. Such an assumption ignores Chaudhry’s penchant for ignoring both in recent rulings and his personal animosity towards Zardari.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Dec 4, 2010 - 11:04AM

    wonder why MQM is opposing RGST even pressure from US govt on them to not to oppose it, Whatever written in the post suggests different perceptions Rahman analyzed when zardari was being tried to pushed into corners, even if MQM gave a political statement to Rehman that US,UK is forcing them to oppose NRO then politically it’s understandable as well to use another shoulder to target the evil of NRO.Recommend

  • Jay S
    Dec 4, 2010 - 12:29PM

    I can understand the US dictating policies to Pakistan – they give out 10s of billions of dollars. But why do the Saudis have a say? They throw peanuts at Pakistan. Mind boggling!Recommend

  • Arifq
    Dec 4, 2010 - 1:08PM

    NS pressurizing CJP Chaudhry Iftikhar, now that sounds familiar. Recommend

  • Muhammad Fahed
    Dec 4, 2010 - 1:17PM

    Could we have the link of this cable?Recommend

  • Shafiq-ur-Rehman Sheikh
    Dec 4, 2010 - 2:17PM

    if you r true that is good for all over the world,because your truth is open negligence persons.I apriciate wiki leaksRecommend

  • Muhammad Fahed
    Dec 4, 2010 - 5:45PM

    I am still waiting for the cable link as i failed find it on wikileaks site.
    Saba please share the link with us.Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel
    Dec 4, 2010 - 7:00PM

    the links keep on being moved from one country to the other. Try http://www.wikileaks.nlRecommend

  • Dec 4, 2010 - 7:28PM

    So strange! MQM never gave this reason, rather it was a policy decision by the party to oppose the NRO, as it was meant for clearing out the “FAKE” cases and not the corruption cases. But the PPP were more interested in the money cases to be taken care of first. This is why MQM went against the NRO.

    Senario 1: RM could be making this up with Anne Patterson
    Senario 2: MQM could have told RM that US told them, only to get away from him and the NRO.

    Lastly – The reporter must confirm these points with RM and MQM in order to come out with what actually happened. Recommend

  • Dec 4, 2010 - 9:08PM

    By the way, this cable is not on the Wikileaks site. But it is present on the Der Spiegel article. Why is that? Recommend

    Dec 5, 2010 - 4:41PM

    why does everyone from pakistan cry in front of the US ambassador.Recommend

  • Naushad Shafkat
    Dec 7, 2010 - 8:19AM

    I am surprised that no one has paid attention to the assessment of Ambassador Patterson about the Chief Justice; Patterson noted, “Malik’s views on Zardari’s legal troubles presuppose that CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry will be bound by normal interpretations of the law and precedent. Such an assumption ignores Chaudhry’s penchant for ignoring both in recent rulings and his personal animosity towards Zardari.”
    The rest of the story is about politics but this is important because it reflects what not only many Pakistanis now believe but is also a candid assessment made by a third party who neither has any love for President Zardari nor any animosity for the Most Honourable Chief Justice. When the Chief Justice of any country is accused by a non-interested third party of not being bound by normal interpretations of the law and of personal animosity in his judgments is it normal for him to stay in office?Recommend

  • Khursheed Akhtar
    Dec 7, 2010 - 9:06PM

    i think that MQM reject the NRO it does not matter who oppose him but it’s matter thay have done good job to reject it
    Gea MQMRecommend

  • Muhammad faisal siddiqui
    Dec 10, 2010 - 9:38PM

    Well being an political student, wiki leaks news help the people around the world to understand the dirty politics and how the influence its being used to the other countries and how there puppets work for them and not to serve the people or run the better government into there own countries, well i go with an MQM and their party cheif Altaf Hussain who always raise a strong voice for the people and recently oppose with the RGST bill, not even this the party made a clear statement about the fudeal lords in Pakistan…it’s about time that we all the people in Pakistan and abroad get united and stand for the country, for not only the betterment also for the peace with knowledge and wisdom.Recommend

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