News / Asia

Release of WikiLeaks Cables Sheds New Light on US-Pakistan Relations

The release of WikiLeaks cables about Pakistan have shed new light on U.S.-Pakistan relations.  Although the classified communications reveal Washington's frustration with Islamabad and the struggle in Pakistan between the country's military and political leadership, analysts say the public disclosure of the cables will not damage relations between the two countries.

One of the leaked cables describes unsuccessful efforts by the United States last year to remove highly enriched uranium from Pakistan.  According to the cable, officials in both countries worried that removing the uranium would add to the growing anti-Americanism in Pakistan.

Analyst Lisa Curtis of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation says that although it was a cooperative effort to safeguard the uranium, it  is not seen the same way throughout Pakistan.

"It is no surprise to anybody that the U.S. is concerned about this issue," said Curtis. "But for hardliners in Pakistan, they will grab on to this report and argue that this vindicates their stand that the US wants to emasculate Pakistan's nuclear weapons capability which is just not the case."

A New York Times newspaper report calls the Pakistan nuclear issue "the most unnerving evidence of the complex relationship" between Washington and Islamabad.

Curtis says the leaked U.S. diplomatic communications also show Pakistan's political instability and how difficult it is for the Obama administration to move beyond merely a transactional relationship with Islamabad.  She says there are deep divisions throughout Pakistan.

"You have [Pakistan] President [Asif Ali] Zardari worrying that the chief of army staff is going to oust him,' she said. "You have President  Zardari blaming the opposition for alerting the [militant group] Lashkar-e-Taiba that they will be listed as a terrorist organization and lose their funding.  You have blame being thrown around by all different parts of the Pakistani establishment.  It demonstrates how difficult it is for the U.S. to have an effective partnership with such an unstable partner."

Curtis says the cables reveal that beneath public assurances lie deep divisions in Islamabad on issues like Pakistan's support for the Afghan Taliban and tolerance of al-Qaida.

But she says that although the WikiLeaks disclosure has caused some damage to U.S.-Pakistan bilateral relations, the leaks will not alter fundamental relations between Washington and Islamabad.

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