MonitorsPublished on Dec 17, 2010
Even as newspapers with access to the WikiLeaks exposes have come out with installments of diplomatic cable communication on US's relations with Pakistan, an impression is gaining ground that Washington was indeed struggling to get Islamabad to work to secure American interests in the region.
WikiLeaks exposes divergence in US-Pakistan relations
< class="heading1">Analysis

Even as newspapers with access to the WikiLeaks exposes have come out with installments of diplomatic cable communication on US's relations with Pakistan, an impression is gaining ground that Washington was indeed struggling to get Islamabad to work to secure American interests in the region. The leaks have confirmed the complex relationship that exists between the two ostensible allies, and the subsequent efforts to contain emerging disagreements. In a January 2009 confidential cable on the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, former US Ambassador Anne Patterson summed it up by calling the US-Pakistan relationship as one of co-dependency, transactional in nature, and based on mutual mistrust.

She noted how Pakistan hedged its bets on cooperation because it feared that the US will again desert Islamabad after they got Osama bin Laden. Washington saw this hesitancy as duplicity that 'required we take unilateral action to protect US interests'.1 This exposes a core difference in the incentive structure that was in place in the alliance between the US and Pakistan, which Patterson was aware, created incongruence in the relationship and which was further impeded by the mutual mistrust the two sides share(d).

This idea is further consolidated by evidence from other cables that report that the ISI allowed its representatives to aid insurgents in secret strategy sessions and to organise networks of militant groups to fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan and also have planned out operations to assassinate Afghan leaders. Moreover, a classified memo sent by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring countries provided significant funding for terrorist activities in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border belt.

In a cable sent in May 2009, Patterson reported that the Pakistani Government was not letting American experts gain access to the site from which highly enriched uranium -- material which had the capability of creating multiple 'dirty bombs' -- was to be extracted. Instead, in strategic dialogues between the US and Pakistan, Patterson noted that Islamabad continued to prioritise India as the main issue rather than home-grown terrorism, and that Pakistan limited its interest over Afghanistan to the perceived 'strategic depth in the fight against India, and the core Kashmir issue'.

The importance of the documents brought out by WikiLeaks in understanding US-Pakistan relations is two-fold. First, it gives an official confirmation of the increasing difficulty that the US Government and diplomats were facing in getting their ally to work with them. Secondly, it confirms the belief that there is a fundamental incongruence in this alliance which is due to the directly oppositional incentives both sides cater to. The divergence between the two nations indicates that the two countries have not formed a natural alliance but in fact one based on transaction. US attention on Pakistan assures that it continues to provide financial aid and development measures whereas Pakistan is supposed to provide the cooperation needed in fighting terrorism. However, this suggests that in order for Pakistan to maintain its leveraging position in the US fight against terrorism, it has an incentive in keeping terrorism operational in its region. Both sides recognise this and are thus stuck in a catch-22 situation as Patterson most aptly notes, "Pakistan knows that the US cannot afford to walk away, and the US knows Pakistan cannot survive without their support."2

1 Anne Patterson, 'US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue' January 2009
2 Anne Patterson, 'US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue' January 2009

Ms. Anjana Varma is an Research Intern at Observer Research Foundation

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Gilani sacks two ministers, JUI-F leaves ruling coalition

Prime Minister Gilani has sacked two warring federal ministers, Religious Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Raza Kazmi and Science and Technology Minister Mohammed Azam Khan, alias Swati, who were accused of corruption and mismanagement in the annual Haj pilgrimage this year.

This resulted in coalition partner JUI-F (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal), which is chiefly financed by Swati, leaving the PPP-led Government, kick-starting a debate on the stability of the present political order.

PPP's Federal Minister for Defence Mukhtar reassured the media that they had chalked out a strategy to bring JUI-F back to the Government. He reassured that the exit of JUI-F, which holds seven seats in the National Assembly and four seats in the Senate, would not cause fall of the Government.
Source: Dawn, December 15, 2010, Daily Times, December 17, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Obama reiterates US troops will withdraw as promised

In a speech to mark the US review report of the Afghan war, US President Barack Obama has called upon Pakistan to step up the fight to root out terrorists' operational sites within its borders. He said though there is progress, it is not fast enough.

Obama said the US will start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in July as promised. He also confirmed that he would visit Pakistan next year and pledged support to the country. The US Congress has approved a $ 7.5-billion package for Pakistan.

The annual review was short in providing details, and did not address the criticism of the Pakistani and Afghan Governments exposed in the recent WikiLeaks diplomatic cables.
Source: Dawn, December 17, 2010

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New constitution for UNP

The much-awaited national convention of the Opposition United National Party (UNP) adopted a new constitution for the party, providing for the election to all top five party posts, including that of the Leader, now held by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Barring slogan-shouting by members supporting Hambantota parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa, son of slain President Ranasinghe Premadasa, the convention passed of incident-free.

Speaking at the convention, Wickremesinghe, Sajith Premadasa and other leaders stressed the need for unity in the party. Criticising the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa on various counts, they said the UNP would capture power in the next elections.

The adoption of the new party constitution is significant for more reasons than one. The concentration of powers in the hands of a single person had become untenable after batches of leaders deserted the party, after failing in their attempts to democratise Sri Lanka's GoP. At the national-level, the party's charges against such concentration of power in the hands of the President, particularly after the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the national Constitution, did not hold water, owing to the practice being followed by it.
Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, December 13, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">British Minister puts off visit

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox has put off his unofficial visit to Sri Lanka. He was to deliver the annual Lakshman Kadirgamar Memorial Lecture, named after the slain Sri Lankan Foreign Minister. Though British officials cited overlapping of engagements as the reason for Fox postponing his visit to Sri Lanka and Maldives, and said that an official visit would follow in January, there were enough indications that the British Foreign Office may have intervened to ensure that the visit did not take place. Fox was the only British Minister to have called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa when the latter visited the UK, in the first week of December, for the aborted Oxford Union Lecture. This followed pan-Tamil, pro-LTTE protests over alleged human rights violations during the last leg of the ethnic war that concluded in May last year.

An old Sri Lanka hand, Fox would now deliver the Lecture during his next visit to Colombo, the organisers of the Lecture announced.
Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, December 15, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India accused of plotting intellectuals' murder in '71

Celebrating the 'Victory Day' on December 16, leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami claimed that India was behind the killings of Bangladeshi intellectuals on December 14, 1971. Jamaat's acting Secretary-General ATM Azharul Islam was the first to make this allegation on December 14. Later, other leaders of the party echoed his stand at various functions organised to mark the 'Victory Day'.

Azharul Islam claimed that the intellectuals had stayed in the country till December 14 as they felt safe. They were against a war being fought from India. Azharul added that the big power (India) realised that the intellectuals won't become its agent. So, it cannot be said that the big power was not behind the killings of the intellectuals as the trial for the crimes was not held, he claimed. Azharul argued that the intellectuals were killed on December 14, when the Indian Army had captured the entire Dhaka on December 12.

The Jamaat's claim is contradictory to established evidences. Documents and literature available on Bangladesh's 'liberation war' narrated that sensing the obvious defeat, the Pakistan Army, in collaboration with their local razakar-associates, Al-Badar and Al-Shams, killed eminent doctors, academicians, engineers, journalists and educationist on December 14.

The Jamaat-e-Islami is known to be collaborating with the Pakistan Army. Many of its top leaders were members of Al-Badar and Al-Shams. Some of them are now behind bars on charges of war crimes. The Government has said these kinds of statements were being made to create confusion and help individuals to try and avoid trial for war crimes.
Source: The Daily Star, December 17&15, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Islami Oikyo Jote chief arrested

The security forces have arrested Mufti Izharul Islam Choudhury, the chief of leading Islamic political party, Ismali Oikya Jote (IOJ), for his alleged connection with the banned militant organisation, Harkatul Jihad Bangladesh (Huji). The arrest followed a news conference convened by the IOJ leader, where he condemned the arrest of five Huji militants who were captured by the security agencies on December 13.

On December 13, a training camp of Huji was uncovered by the security agencies in a remote area of hilly Chittagong. After a fierce gun battle, the security forces managed to arrest five Huji activists while the rest escaped. These arrests proved that the Huji is not only able to continue its activities despite the strong government action to destroy its network but also it still enjoyed the support of some political parties.
Source: The Daily Star, December 16&14, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Labour unrest

Readymade Garments (RMG) factory workers indulged in violent clashes with the law enforcement personnel in three major cities -- Dhaka, Chittagong and Narayanganj -- over wage-related issues. Expressing dissatisfaction over the new wage policy, the RMG workers went on a rampage, vandalising factories, damaging vehicles and blocking roads. The law enforcement agencies had to open fire to control the unruly workers which cost four lives. The workers claimed that the new wage policy is inappropriate as it gave larger hike to junior workers.

The Government, however, saw a conspiracy behind the workers' unrest. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered the authorities to contain the labour unrest with a heavy hand, identifying the instigators. Home Minister Sahara Katun claimed that evil forces from outside had instigated the labour unrest. Education Minister Afsarul Ameen claimed that local leaders of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party had instigated the trouble in Chittagong.

RMG constitutes 80 percent of the country's exports. More than three million people, mostly women, work in these factories which make clothes for major international brands like Wal-Mart, Mark & Spencer and Carrefour. Any attempt to destabilise this industry has a serious implication in the country's economy.
Source: New Age, December 15, 2010 /, December 13, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Law-makers must vote during PM elections, says SC

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled that law-makers attending Parliament for the election of a new prime minister cannot opt to remain neutral or desist from casting their vote. A special Bench of the court, comprising Justices Bal Ram KC, Sushila Karki and Bharat Raj Upreti, passed the orders on a writ petition demanding that the lone candidate for the post of prime minister, Ram Chandra Poudel, be declared prime minister unanimously.

The apex court held that the issue regarding the election of Poudel fell within the jurisdiction of Parliament and that it cannot issue any directive in this regard. It is to be noted that during the 17 rounds of prime ministerial elections, the UCPN-M and the ruling UML boycotted voting while the Madhesi parties remained neutral.
Source: Nepalnews, December 17, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Central Committee endorses Prachanda's dossier

The central committee of the Unified CPN (Maoist) has endorsed chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal's political dossier on policies, programmes and strategies of the party presented at the Palungatar plenum, keeping aside the points which were not settled at the plenum. A central committee meeting at the party headquarters, Parisdanda, endorsed the dossier prepared by Dahal alias Prachanda, partially, by a majority vote after vice-chairman Mohan Baidhya supported it.

Addressing the meeting, Baidhya said that the dispute on the strategies set by the Chunbang plenum and a review of the people's war were still on. However, another vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai, who presented a separate strategy paper at the Palungtar plenum, did not support Prachanda's document.
Source: Nepalnews, December 17, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maoists appeared flexible after the plenum

Maoists' chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda has said that the party was ready to extend maximum flexibility to take the peace process to a logical conclusion and draft a new Constitution for the nation. Accepting a memorandum presented by the Reporters Club at his residence in Nayabazar, the Maoist chief claimed that the decision made by the party central committee has created a favourable environment for ending the prolonged political deadlock.

Stressing that there is no alternative to consensus for peace and a new Constitution, Prachanda said the country will plunge into darkness if political parties failed to move ahead in unity. He said the party was ready to integrate the Maoist combatants under the Special Committee. However, at the same time, a strategy to launch people's protests in March is also reported to be under the consideration of the party.
Source: Kantipur Online, December 18, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maoists links with ULFA and KLO

Inspector-General of Police Ranbir Kumar in West Bengal has said that Nepali Maoists, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) had recently held a secret meeting in Darjeeling. According to a newspaper report published in Siluguri, Kumar spoke about ULFA's direct links with the Maoists to a local TV channel.

Kumar also said that the KLO was helping the Maoists and the ULFA to come together. He also claimed that the Maoists and the KLO will be signing a deal concerning weapons within a few days.

In India, ULFA has been designated a 'terrorist organisation' and is banned since 1990.
Source: Kantipur Online, December 18, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President renominates AG

In a move that could have far-reaching political and constitutional consequences, President Mohamed Nasheed has appointed Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad as Attorney-General. Supreme Court Judge Abdulla Arif administered the oath of office at a function held in the President's office.

Dr. Swad was among the seven Ministers, the rejection of whose nomination by Parliament was upheld by the Supreme Court earlier.

A running-mate of presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim in 2009, Dr. Swad was first appointed Tourism Minister and later as Attorney-General.

Now, civil courts in the country have recommenced hearing on State-centred cases, with an AG in place, though the re-nomination itself could become a bone of contention, both before Parliament and the Supreme Court.
Source: Miadhu News, December 14, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MDP appeals against splitting ranks

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi has appealed to party members not to split the party ranks in the upcoming local council elections. Addressing a campaign rally at Henveiru south district, she recalled that the party could not translate its higher voter share into votes in the parliamentary polls of 2009 because of rebels in the field.

In a significant first step for any political party in Maldives, the MDP has introduced primaries for the choice of party candidates for all elections across the country. As may be recalled, President Mohammed Nasheed had won party nomination in one such primary held in 2008, and his more important competitors had chosen to stay with him, and often work for him, both in the presidential polls and in the Government since his return to power.
Source: Miadhu News, December 14, 2010

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