Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


WikiLeaks gets muted political response in Pakistan

Criticism at home of Pakistan’s major political players is likely to be quelled by the fact that the government and its political opposition have been embarrassed equally.

By Issam AhmedCorrespondent / December 1, 2010

People watch a television broadcasts program regarding WikiLeaks memos about Pakistan's nuclear program at a local electronic shop in Karachi, Pakistan on Dec.1.

Fareed Khan/AP

Enlarge

Lahore, Pakistan

The latest tranche of leaked US embassy cables out of Pakistan have highlighted the Pakistani military’s influence over its civilian government as well as America’s deep role in the country’s power politics.

Skip to next paragraph

But criticism here of Pakistan’s major political players is likely to be quelled by the fact that the government and its political opposition have been embarrassed equally. Also, the Pakistan Army is set to benefit from general reluctance among Pakistani media to criticize the government, according to analysts.

“Only those who have always been genuinely critical of US policy can truly hope to benefit,” from the WikiLeaks information dump, notes Rasul Baksh Rais, a political scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He adds that it will be back to business as usual once the newness of the WikiLeaks wears off.

But first, the revelations

A March 2009 cable reveals that Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani’s told Ambassador Anne Patterson he was considering ousting President Asif Ali Zardari in the midst of the country’s judicial crisis. He hoped to replace him with Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan in order to avoid ceding power to opposition party leader Nawaz Sharif.

“We do not believe Army action is imminent. We do believe Kayani was laying down a clear marker so that, if he has to act, he can say he warned the US in advance and gave us ample opportunities to pressure both sides to back down,” the cable reads, indicating the influence that the Army reasonably presumed the US to have. The cable may also damage Kayani’s oft-cited reputation as a consummate professional, uninterested in interfering in the governing process.

The embattled President Zardari, for his part, comes across at times as pliable, telling US congressmen that "We won't act without consulting with you," in an Islamabad meeting a few months before his election as president.

Permissions

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story