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Washington offers balm for Pak pain
- After red carpet for Singh, job sop for Aziz

Washington, Aug. 13: The process of offering quid pro quos to Pakistan for having unrolled the red carpet at the White House for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may have begun in Washington.

World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, one of President George W. Bush’s key aides in his first term in the White House, is understood to have offered Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz one of two vacancies of managing director in the World Bank group.

Aziz denied last week that he was headed permanently for Washington, but two aides to Wolfowitz, both lawyers employed by the World Bank, flew to Tokyo this week and met Aziz, who was on an official visit to Japan.

Speculation at the World Bank is that the two lawyers carried with them the contract being offered to Pakistan’s Prime Minister so that Aziz could mark the “T”s and dot the “I”s on the terms for his new employment.

It is understood that India has been informally sounded out on Aziz’s new job as a courtesy: the World Bank chief is, by no means, required to do so.

According to high-level sources at the World Bank, the sounding is said to have been done when Wolfowitz unexpectedly dropped in on commerce minister Kamal Nath during his recent visit to Washington.

Wolfowitz sought no appointment with Kamal Nath, but appeared at the Four Seasons Hotel here where the minister was staying in the company of Jim Hoagland, a columnist for The Washington Post, who had been granted a meeting with the minister.

As a result, there were no note-takers for the discussions between Kamal Nath and Wolfowitz, but the latter is said to have hinted to the minister the possibility that Pakistan’s head of government would fill one of the most powerful jobs in the World Bank group soon.

The World Bank now has only one functioning managing director, Shengman Zhang of China.

Traditionally, it had four managing directors, but three of them ' Jeffrey Goldstein, an American, German-born Peter Woicke and Ramphela Mamphele of South Africa ' recently stepped down.

Wolfowitz has decided not to fill the vacancy caused by Mamphele’s resignation. The French are leading a campaign to have a European to be No.2 to Wolfowitz, with whom Paris has a history of intense allergy because of his neo-conservative views and his role as an architect of the Iraq war.

Aziz is a friend of Wolfowitz, going back to the years when Pervez Musharraf’s recent choice as Prime Minister was an executive at Citibank in New York.

The Pakistan Prime Minister was to have visited Washington in the last week of July to meet the US President, but abruptly cancelled the trip after it had been formally announced by the White House.

The cancellation is said to be an act of pique by Pakistan for the red carpet welcome here for Manmohan Singh and the deals between Washington and New Delhi, particularly in the area of nuclear cooperation.

Wolfowitz’s decision to send the lawyers to Tokyo ' instead of Islamabad ' has puzzled senior World Bank executives.

It may suggest that Pakistan President Musharraf is holding out for bigger and more substantive quid pro quos for what the Bush administration has done for India, having signalled his displeasure by cancelling Aziz’s meetings at the White House.

In that case, Wolfowitz may be seeking a deal with Aziz behind Musharraf’s back in Washington’s tradition of building up parallel allies within the Pakistani establishment as an insurance against future changes in the power structure in Islamabad.

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