Imagine that a foreign government was secretly trying to instigate a coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of a Muslim country. Imagine that they had already selected their hand-picked puppet to replace the democratically elected government and made a secret deal with this man to ensure his loyalty, and used bribes and other economic carrots to entice politicians to do their bidding. What foreign government do you think this is?
If you believe the non sense of conspiracy theorists like Ahmed Quraishi and Zaid Hamid, you will probably be shouting AMREEKA!!! or HINDUSTAN!!! from below your lal topi. But if you had access to secret government documents, you would know that this is no conspiracy theory – and the foreign government is not America or India…
Most people appear to be obsessed with the petty name-calling and other gossips in the Wikileaks documents, but there’s actually some pretty interesting bits of information that we should be paying more attention to than we are. These latest Wikileaks documents actually point to an America that is doing less meddling in Pakistan than another country who we all too often assume is looking out for our best interests.
If I get one more SMS or email about the comment by King Abdullah that President Zardari is a ‘rotten head’, I’m going to throw my phone out the window. But it’s fascinating, isn’t it, that everyone can’t stop repeating that little comment but nobody has paid attention to the actual content of that secret memo which says that Saudi Arabia was trying to overthrow our own government.
Abdullah’s preference for military rule was recorded by the Saudis’ American guests: “They appear to be looking for ‘another Musharraf’: a strong, forceful leader they know they can trust.” His views were echoed by the interior minister, who said Saudi Arabia viewed the army as its “winning horse” in Pakistan.
That’s right – for all Ahmed Quraishi, Zaid Hamid, and Shireen Mazari’s hyperventilating about the USA, the real meddler has been a little bit closer to home. It turns out it’s not the Americans who are interested in controlling Pakistan, it’s the Saudis. What’s worst, the Saudis are not only trying to topple the government, they are attempting to put their own puppet in charge.
The anti-Zardari bias appears to have a sectarian tinge. Pakistan’s ambassador to Riyadh, Umar Khan Alisherzai, says the Saudis, who are Sunni, distrust Zardari, a Shia. Last year the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, told Hillary Clinton that Saudi suspicions of Zardari’s Shia background were “creating Saudi concern of a Shia triangle in the region between Iran, the Maliki government in Iraq, and Pakistan under Zardari”.
The Saudis betray a strong preference for Sharif, who fled into exile in Jeddah in 2000 to avoid prosecution under General Pervez Musharraf. The cables contain details of Sharif’s secret exile deal – he was to remain out of politics for 10 years – as well as hints of Saudi anger when he returned to Pakistan in 2007.
Since then, however, Saudi displeasure has abated, and the Saudis clearly view him as “their man” in the Pakistani power game. In early 2008 the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, described Sharif as a “force for stability” and “a man who can speak across party lines even to religious extremists”. American officials noted that Sharif had obtained preferential business deals during his time in Saudi Arabia.
According to the leaked documents, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US Adel al-Jubeir told American Charge D’Affaires Michael Gfoeller, “We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants.”
I don’t want to let the Americans off the hook here. They are a global super power, not a group of flower salesman. Honestly, I’m glad that our representatives in the foreign office and in our embassies are treating them with caution. They can do a lot of good as an honest partner, but we have also seen what they can do when they make mistakes (for example, 2001-2008).
But can we please get over our obsession with anti-American conspiracy theories and take an honest assessment of what our so-called ‘friends’ are up to?