New Delhi, Sept. 3: A section of the Pakistani administration, irked by General Pervez Musharraf’s pro-American stand, has decided to leak details of the counter-terrorism measures that Islamabad and Washington were planning to undertake, in yet another attempt to embarrass the Pakistani President.
The timing of the leak comes less than a week before Musharraf was to leave for New York to address the United Nations General Assembly and hold a meeting on the sidelines with the American President George W. Bush.
The leak also raises serious questions about the security of the communication lines between Musharraf and the US administration. If these sensitive documents can find their way to the media office then other equally important papers on what goes between the two governments in their fight against terror in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere can also be leaked out.
One of the interesting things that the leak highlights is an assurance by the US to provide Musharraf with an authenticated copy of the US Senate governmental affairs sub-committee of investigations on money laundering. The report prepared in 1999, in which the Citibank client and husband of Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari was presented as a “case history” by the Citibank before the sub-committee.
Benazir’s nomination papers for the forthcoming elections in Pakistan have been rejected by the Election Commission. Musharraf and his close associates are likely to use the report against the Pakistani People’s Party leader in the campaigns for the polls.
One of the areas of cooperation talked about in the five-page non-papers is the exchange of wanted persons by the two countries. Pakistan has assured to bring to trial four fugitive wanted in the US for Pan Am 73 jet crash and will also look into the extradition of six persons wanted by Washington. In return, the Bush administration has agreed to start proceedings against two Pakistani nationals if they were still in the US.
The News of Pakistan on Sunday carried a report suggesting that a deal between Musharraf and the Americans to convert the Line of Control as the international border with India will be struck as part of a final solution to the Kashmir problem when the Pakistani President is in the US. The report was vehemently denied by the Pakistani foreign office as a handiwork of the anti-Musharraf elements.
Today’s report was carried out in the South Asia Tribune — an Internet news magazine that is being operated from the US. The Tribune is also known for its anti-Musharraf stand.
In diplomatic parlance, non-papers are text of language agreed between two sides in informal meetings and the informal minutes that are exchanged to firm up positions and keep track of the specified issues to be discussed in specialised group sessions.
The Tribune reporter in Karachi who got hold of the non-papers said the Pakistani interior minister, Moinuddin Haider, was soon to travel to Washington to discuss the details of the counter-terrorism measures with the Americans. According to the agreement between the two sides, the US has agreed to spend $3 million for upgrading and training of the Karachi Central Intelligence department and another $47 million for passport reforms, including centralisation of issuance and providing machine readable passports.
According to the report, the main subjects to be covered by the two sides include the issue of Pakistani nationals in US custody, exchange of information to investigate and prosecute organisations of smugglers, exploring ways of how US officials could work together with the Pakistanis “more proactively” to deter and detect smuggling through airports, controlling alien smuggling and border security, specially in the south-western Baluchistan province and the western border of Pakistan.
“The range of cooperation between the US and Pakistan law enforcement authorities is so wide that almost at every security point, US presence would become inevitable, either in the form of physical troops or machines, cameras or spying equipment relaying images and data to US officials sitting close by somewhere,” a Pakistani journalist was quoted by the report as saying.