Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

SAUDI ARABIAN INVOLVEMENT IN PAK AFFAIRS

The latest wikileaks cables reveal that the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah believes that former military dictator Gen Retd Musharraf may be the best option for Pakistan’s security. Saudi intelligence chief frankly tells the americans about Saudi preferences: “Prince Muqrin said that while the King considers both Sharif and Musharraf friends, he considers Musharraf the better person to handle anti-terror issues.”

The candid behind-the-scenes details of Mr Sharif’s return to exile in Saudi Arabia shared by Prince Muqrin with the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ford M. Fraker, are documented in a secret cable from the US consulate in Jeddah on Sept 12, 2007.

Delving into the complexities of Pakistani politics, Prince Muqrin also “speculated that there is probably an agreement between Sharif and the Pakistani Chief Justice, adding that if the Chief Justice grants Sharif the right to return to Pakistan and Sharif wins, the Chief Justice will become President.”

The Saudi prince went on to state “that he is almost certain the Chief Justice will side with Sharif, noting that he believes the run-up to the November election will be tense.”

The cable reveals that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif “thought he might be arrested” upon his return to Saudi Arabia after deportation from Pakistan on Sept 10, 2007, but Prince Muqrin, Head of General Intelligence Presidency, Saudi Arabia, gave Sharif “two options — he could either stay at a palace that had been prepared for him, or at his home. He opted to go to his home.”

“During Ambassdor Fraker’s meeting with Prince Muqrin, the Prince first summarised the ten-year agreement, brokered by Rafik Hariri, under which Sharif would live in Saudi Arabia and refrain from participating in Pakistani politics. He added that there was a verbal agreement that after five years, they would hold negotiations to consider reducing that ten year period,” according to the secret cable.

Prince Muqrin went on to describe “how Saad Al-Hariri warned Sharif not to return to Pakistan, but how Sharif disregarded the warning and went anyway.”

After Sharif’s forcible return from Pakistan to Jeddah, Prince Muqrin received the former Pakistani prime minister at the airport at which point the two discussed where Mr Sharif would stay.

Prince Muqrin also told Sharif that there would be “some restrictions” on his activities “for a short while, at least through the November elections, to reduce the likelihood of inciting rioting among his supporters in Pakistan.”

Ambassador Fraker was also told that “Sharif will remain in Saudi Arabia until after the Pakistani elections in November.” Sharif eventually returned to Pakistan on Nov 25, 2007, by which point elections were to be held in early 2008.

“The Prince explained that, as in Lebanon, the Pakistani constitution requires individuals working within the government to be outside government for two years prior to becoming President. Therefore a constitutional change would be required for Musharraf to become President.”

In a previously released cable from 2007, the Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir boasts “We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants,”. A senior US official later bemoaned as “negative” the Saudi influence. Al-Jubeir added that for the SAG, stability in Pakistan is an essential strategic matter. Since Pakistan possesses both nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles, from the Saudi point of view, the policy choice to be made there boils down to a drastic choice: “We can either support Musharraf and stability, or we can allow bin Laden to get the bomb, “he told the Charge’.

In another cable from November 2008 by Bryan Hunt, the then Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore, was based on information from discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during his trips to the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur.

Quoting local interlocutors, Hunt attempts to explain how the “sophisticated jihadi recruitment network” operated in a region dominated by the Barelvi sect, which, according to the cable, made south Punjab “traditionally hostile” to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith schools of thought.

Hunt refers to a “network of Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith mosques and madrassahs” being strengthened through an influx of “charity” which originally reached organisations “such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Al-Khidmat foundation”. Portions of these funds would then be given away to clerics “in order to expand these sects’ presence” in a relatively inhospitable yet “potentially fruitful recruiting ground”.

Outlining the process of recruitment for militancy, the cable describes how “families with multiple children” and “severe financial difficulties” were generally being exploited for recruitment purposes. Families first approached by “ostensibly ‘charitable’” organisations would later be introduced to a “local Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith maulana” who would offer to educate the children at his madrassah and “find them employment in the service of Islam”. “Martyrdom” was also “often discussed”, with a final cash payment to the parents. “Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rs 500,000 (approximately USD 6,500) per son,” the cable states.

The cable sent to the State Department stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

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  1. griffithinsider said, on May 24, 2011 at 03:03

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